/ Story and photography by Pete Martin
James Bond still loves a martini. And, “Mad Men” reminded us just how distinguished the drink is, although the three-martini lunches of the era are mostly a distant memory. The traditional martini, which traces its origins to the late 1800s, is a simple cocktail, made with gin, vermouth and an olive or lemon twist. In the 1920s, the recipe became somewhat standardized on a 2-to-1 ratio of gin-to-vermouth, but today’s martini generally uses much less vermouth for a drier drink.
Despite being such a simple concoction, it’s surprisingly easy to make a bad martini. As a good friend once told me, with so few ingredients, a small mistake has a huge impact. But with the right ingredients and a little know-how, anyone can mix the perfect martini. Like Mr. Bond, I like my martinis very cold, so I opt for shaken, not stirred. I’m also very traditional in my gin choices: Plymouth navy strength is my favorite, followed closely by Bombay Sapphire and Tanqueray.
What you need
- Top-quality gin, Plymouth navy strength
- Vermouth, in a mister
- Ice cubes
- Jigger, 1.5 ounces
- Olives; Sclafani pimento stuffed are my choice, but sometimes I stuff their martini olives with fresh blue cheese for an additional upgrade
- Olive pick
- Martini glass
Chill the glass by filling it with ice and water. Set it aside. Use the olive pick to skewer two olives; set those aside as well.
Half-fill the shaker with ice and add one (or two) jiggers of gin. Shake vigorously for 30 to 45 seconds, until mixture is very cold. Shaking will chill the gin, and the agitation will help release the liquor’s botanicals.
Discard the ice and water from the glass. If you don’t have a vermouth mister, now is the time to add a small amount of vermouth to the glass and swirl it around. Discard the excess, keeping as much vermouth as you prefer. The more vermouth that remains, the sweeter the martini will be.
Strain the gin from the shaker into the glass. If you did not add vermouth in the previous step, use the mister to add one to three sprays across the top of the martini at this time.
Stir the martini lightly as you add the olives and sip.