There are not sufficient superlatives to describe the silken elegance, balance, or far-flung influence of the Martini. It is the Alpha and Omega, the gold standard by which all other imbibe-able concoctions of alcoholic spirits shall be judged. But its origins—as is often the case with classic cocktails—are less definitive. Professor Jerry Thomas (grandfather of cocktailing) claimed he created the Martinez—progenitor to the Martini, made with sweet vermouth and maraschino liqueur—in California, circa 1850, for a Martinez-bound prospector. Of course, Mr. Thomas claimed a lot of things. And despite what Martini & Rossi might like you to believe, the Martini was in circulation long before their vermouth reached American bars. However it happened, by the turn of the century, dry vermouth had supplanted sweet, and a very recognizable libation emerged. Now, as then, a martini is as reliable as a well-cut navy suit: with it, you’ll always be in fashion.
The Modern Classic
There are many martini camps, most unnecessarily dogmatic. The first published recipes call for equal parts vermouth and gin. We’re not so historically precious, but neither are we in agreement with Noel Coward, who preferred to merely wave his glass of gin toward Italy. And though vodka dominated the cocktail glass for decades, modern mixology has—thankfully—rediscovered the virtues of gin. A dash of bitters (another nod to the original concoction) brings it home.
3 and ½ oz Plymouth Gin
½ oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 Dash Regan’s Orange Bitters no. 6
1 lemon twist
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Fill with ice. Stir (approximately 40-revolutions) and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Cut a fresh lemon twist (taking care to avoid the bitter pith), run it around the rim of the glass, express over the drink, and drop it in.
Two Spring Variations
Back in the nineties, anything served in a cocktail glass with the suffix “tini” slapped on the name was considered a Martini. We advocate for nothing quite so ridiculous. However, as spring emerges, a couple seasonal tweaks can refresh your Martini. Here, two updated takes.
Martini & Rosemary
Taking little inspiration from the herb garden will brighten and re-imagine your standard gin Martini. Swapping blanc vermouth for dry gives you a more luscious, sweeter quality.
2.5 oz of Beefeater Gin
1 oz of Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 oz of Rosemary Infused Honey Syrup*
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Fill with ice. Shake vigorously (for approximately 8-seconds). Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh lemon twist.
*Rosemary Infused Honey Syrup: Heat 1-part honey and 2.5-parts water over medium heat in a saucepan. Stir occasionally. Add a large bunch of rosemary to the pan; remove from heat after five minutes. Allow to steep for 20-minutes, or until the rosemary flavor is very distinct (time will depend on size of batch; check regularly). Strain with a fine sieve.
The Lounge Martini
In Mother England, where they take their dry gin martinis very seriously, a bartender with the fine British moniker Sabastian Hamilton Mudge stirs a floral and aromatic martini with a touch of dry fruit. He calls it the Lounge Martini.
2.5-oz Plymouth Gin
2-Bar Spoons Lillet Blanc
1-Bar Spoon Limoncello
1-Bar Spoon Apricot Liqueur*
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice. Stir and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a fresh lemon twist.
*Apricot liqueur is not the same thing as Apricot Schnapps. Please do not come anywhere near your martini glass with Apricot Schnapps.