THOSE WHO TAKE their cocktails seriously agree that James Bond was on the wrong side of the glass: martinis should be stirred, not shaken. When shaken, a martini can become over-diluted and foggy, marring the taste and its crystal-clear beauty. Serving guests an icy-cold martini is essential, and to achieve this without shaking, chill the vermouth (storing it in the fridge will also maintain freshness) and the glass. Stirring with a bar spoon until the shaker is frosty and hand-numbingly cold is another key to success. How one garnishes is personal preference, so having both olives and strips of freshly peeled lemon zest for a twist is thoughtful when entertaining.
But the directives stop here. When the first martinis were mixed in the 19th century, they leaned toward a 50/50 split—vermouth and gin in equal balance—and a dash of orange bitters were added for good measure. It has been an evolution from wet to dry over a century and a half, and this recipe falls in the middle. Asking a guest, “how do you take it?” is appropriate. But let us be clear—gin is the only spirit one should offer.
Let us raise a well-chilled glass to this holiday season, giving thanks for family, friends, and the classic All-American martini.
THE CLASSIC MARTINI
Chill the glass for a perfectly cold cocktail by filling with ice and allowing to sit until cold, discarding all residual water and melting ice before making the cocktail. Glass may also be placed in the freezer until frosty.
- 3 ounces chilled London dry gin
- 1 ounce chilled dry vermouth
- 1 lemon, peel cut into strips with a vegetable peeler or paring knife
- Queen or Manzanilla olives from the olive bar
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add gin and vermouth, and stir constantly for 30 seconds, or until shaker is frosty and extremely cold. Strain into a chilled martini or coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist: twist a strip of peel over the glass to release oils, then run along the rim and add to the glass. Alternatively, garnish with three olives.