Friday, February 21, 2014

Thinking of Drinking: 'Tinis

Nothing beats a well-made Martini

The Martini is, without question, the ultimate classic cocktail. And, when it comes to home bar panache,nothing says cocktail hour more than an ice-cold, crystal clear, perfectly made version of this drink.

Ignoring the famous words of James Bond, the classic Martini always stirred not shaken. Save the rattle of ice cubes for another night, and opt for the mixing glass for this ritual.

Be it the original gin Martini or the iconic, Mad Men-era Smirnoff Martini , the Martini needs to be served absolutely icy cold. The key to achieving this is good, large, solid ice cubes, fresh from the freezer – small, hollow or melting ice cubes will over-dilute the drink.

Stir the ingredients with plenty of ice until they are fully blended, freezing cold and only very slightly diluted: most bartenders stir Martinis for 15 to 20 seconds and serve in glasses that have been frosted in the freezer. The precise proportions of gin or vodka and vermouth in the classic Martini are a matter of personal preference. The more vermouth a Martini includes, the ‘wetter’ it becomes; the less vermouth, the ‘drier’ it will turn out. A Martini served without vermouth is a Naked Martini.

The rich flavour of Tanqueray works best at a ratio of 10:1, while the Smirnoff Martini is best enjoyed wetter, at a ratio of 2.5:1. As with the garnish, however, the choice is down to the drinker.

Classic Martini variations include the Vesper Martini, created by James Bond for the double agent Vesper Lynn, which includes both Smirnoff and gin, and the Dirty Martini, which benefits from a hit of olive brine. The olives in a Dirty Martini are always green, and many bartenders like to prepare their olives by soaking them in the base spirit overnight. In the classic Martini, the base spirit sings.

If guests don't enjoy the full flavour of the classic Martini, a contemporary Martini style that's worth considering is the Espresso Martini, a full-flavoured blend of espresso, coffee and Smirnoff, created by London bartender Dick Bradsell in the 1980s for a famous model who wanted something that would “wake me up”. It will certainly liven up your taste buds – and your party.

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