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January 06, 2021 4 min read

The History

Most people are familiar with and know the various guises of the Martini cocktail but from my history of working in bars I have discovered that surprisingly, it isn’t the most popular drink. The drink itself conjures up images of sophistication and style but in the general populous can seem a little intimidating. So with this week’s blog post you’ll learn more about the history of the cocktail and I’ll give you an insight into its various forms. 

The cocktail was most likely conceived in America and is a variation on the Martinez. Although there are many theories of how it was first made such as Julio Richelieu’s bar in 1870 when he made a gin and vermouth drink and served it with an olive. Another theory being that a New York lawyer called Randolph Martine gave it the name, with many early recipes calling it the Martine. 

The Drink

The classic Martini recipe calls for vermouth and the amount it contains deems how dry it is. It will also be made of gin when ordered, you may recall in James Bond films and novels that he likes to order a vodka martini. It may all seem slightly confusing but here is a quick guide on the variations of the Martini and the gins I recommend:

The Churchill Martini - Jarrold's London Dry Gin

“I would like to observe the vermouth from across the room while I drink my martini.”

It seems that Churchill wasn't a fan of vermouth, so if you aren't either then give this one a try. It is London Dry Gin stirred with ice and garnished with a lemon twist or olive.

Bone Dry Martini - Twisted Spirits Douglas Fir

For those who would like a suggestion of vermouth then this is for you. Pour a small amount of vermouth in the glass, give it a swirl, discard it and pop your gin in the glass with a garnish of your choice.

Dry Martini - Burleighs London Dry Distillers Cut 

“Why don’t you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?”

Ginger Rogers loved it and probably the most famous of styles with a gin/vermouth ratio of 6:1. For this I like to use a bar spoon of vermouth to 50ml of gin, again garnish with your choice of lemon or olive.

Wet Martini - British Polo No.1 Classic Gin

As you may have guessed this has a higher ratio of vermouth to gin. My personal preference for a martini is 4:1 as I think the aromatic characteristics of vermouth adds an emphasis to the botanicals. But the classic Wet Martini could be anything from 3:1 or even equal amounts of vermouth and gin.

Dirty Martini - Twisted Nose Gin

As you may have noticed we have mentioned the addition of olives to the Martini but with the inclusion of olive brine you have yourself a Dirty Martini. The more brine you add the dirtier it gets.

Vesper Martini - Alkkemist Gin and Sun Bear Original Vodka

“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”. Casino Royale

Another well known Martini from Casino Royale and the only time James Bond orders one. With the recipe quoted you will struggle to make it, that is unless you want to fork out hundreds of pounds for vintage bottles of Gordons and Kina Lillet as they changed their recipe (not as good) and the later is no longer produced. I for one really enjoy this cocktail and often recreate it with a jumper dominated gin like Alkkemist.

How To Make

Let's first look at the shaken v stirred argument. James Bond has his Martini shaken, if you went to a bartender and asked for one then it would definitely be stirred stating this is the correct way to make it. The basis of this theory is that you can control the dilution of the gin when it is stirred as shaking adds too much water and the process turns the drink opaque. So when making just stir in whatever you have handy and in doing so you can make sure you have reached the correct dilution for you.

Regarding the garnish feel free to experiment, my preference is lemon peel as I enjoy that refreshing citrus hit. If you prefer a more savory drink go with the olive, and like I mentioned the Twisted Nose Gin with its lovely peppery elements from the watercress works wonderfully.

One important rule is to ensure that your glass is chilled, my tip is to put it in the freezer beforehand or if you forget just pop some ice in the glass as you make it.

There is a whole range of Martinis, there are no hard and fast rules, apart from the chilled glass. There are so many avenues to explore, why not try a sloe gin Martini? Do you love pink gin? It would work really well with the citrus hit of lemon zest! Remember that recipes are just guides, we aren't conducting brain surgery, the worst thing that can happen is you prefer more or less vermouth. So give the martini a go. It is a wonderful base for many cocktails and will help you understand the world of cocktails slightly more and make you look cooler when you are shaking one up for your lockdown buddies!

If you do make one, take a picture and tag us on Instagram @SpiltsDrinks, we love to see your creations!

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