Martini is undoubtedly the king of cocktails; sophisticated, simple and possibly the benchmark by which all cocktail bars are measured.
The simplicity is nought without the ‘touch’, however; that certain something which all the best bartenders possess, and which elevates the ordinary into the extraordinary. The real secret lies in the quality of the ingredients – gin, or vodka, and vermouth; let there be no mistake that they need to be the best you can afford, as budget brands just won’t cut the mustard. These days most martinis (90 per cent of them in London, apparently) are made with vodka. For this, use the unparalleled Grey Goose. However, to my mind, the best martini is made with gin, and I would always go for the timeless Bombay Sapphire, with its ballsy aromatics and citrusy finish. For the vermouth, accept no alternative; it has to be Noilly Prat Original Dry. In 1911, the head bartender at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York declared the that only vermouth to use was a Noilly Prat Original Dry; you guessed it, his name was Martini. You can read about this amazing drink and its roots in my feature, wherein I search for the perfect martini. Make sure everything is chilled, including your glass, and follow these steps to become an at-home martini maestro.
This isn’t a prescriptive method – you can flex it to suit your taste – but the basics are all here.
Fill a glass with ice. Add 1 part Noilly Prat Original Dry to 2 parts Bombay Sapphire or Grey Goose with a dash of orange bitters. Stir for 20 seconds Strain into a classic cocktail glass. Cut the zest of a lemon into a strip, twist it and waft it over the glass and add OR add an olive or two on a stick. Drink and be very, very sophisticated.