The Martini remains one of the most revered and iconic cocktails of all time. Despite its simplicity, the endless number of minor factors that can alter the end profile (let alone the endless combinations of gin and vermouth) makes the quest for the ultimate Martini a lifelong journey. There are worse expeditions to embark on, mind…
To make them at home, you’ll need some gin and vermouth, but with some simple additions you can also discover a world of twists, riffs and alternatives.
Debate shaking or stirring all you want (we’ll drink either thanks), but whatever you choose – make sure the glass itself is chilled. Let’s start with the all-important ingredient first! There’s no wrong Gin to use here, when it comes to choosing which one to pick in a Martini, there are definitely some that work better than others.
In this blog we’ve put together a little bit of advice on what to look for in the core ingredients (and why), so that if you are shopping with the Martini in mind you can gain a better understanding of what might work best.
We recommend selecting gins with a strong juniper backbone, so that they work with either a twist or when served with olives and ideally, gins that have three clear moments in their flavour journey so that they evolve as you sip. Citrus will always present first, followed by herbs and then spice. If you can find gins that are balanced, you’ll really notice that transition in a Martini as it’s a cocktail that exposes every detail of the spirit.
Two great Martini Gins are Never Never Triple Juniper Gin as its piney clarity anchors the glass, while pepperberry adds a warming touch to the finish that delivers a lingering spice long after each sip. Meanwhile No. 3 Gin has the grapefruit top note, herbal juniper and warming cassia that allows for a fabulous flavour journey when served as a perfectly chilled Martini.
Dry Vermouth is gin’s dance partner in a Martini, and all too often mistakenly relegated to a supporting role. It might be used sparingly in a Dry Martini (1-part vermouth to 5 parts Gin), more liberally in a Wet Martini (1 to 3) and in equal parts in a 50 / 50 Martini – but whatever the dose, it’s a key component in achieving perfection.
Such small ratios might not seem like it's going to be important, but trust us - it’s really noticeable and because of that deliberately pairing the gin and vermouth matters.
To help you choose, ask yourself the following; How bitter or sweet is it, what kind of texture does it have and does it have any added top notes that lend transformative effects?
Try Noily Prat Dry Vermouth for a classic, drying Martini (especially when you’ve got a juniper forward gin). Meanwhile the likes of the fresh and lively Cocchi Americano is perfectly suited for the lighter, more floral or citrussy gins due to its stone fruit and slightly less bitter finish. El Bandarra also marries well with gins that have bright aromas and nuanced notes.
One of the things to keep in mind when you calculate this boozy equation is how the garnish impacts it all. You might have a perfect balance in the glass, but it will be greatly impacted by what you do thereafter. If you are zesting, then it makes sense to pick a lighter vermouth and vis versa for olives...
If Gin just isn't your thing, don't fret - there are dozens of other variations that you can easily make.
Take the Vodka Martini, it can be delicious when you pick the right craft offering, which can deliver wonderfully textured and elegant flavours. You can even add the two spirits together to make a Vesper Martini (2 parts Gin, 1 Vodka, 1/2 Vermouth) too!
We like using the likes of Chase Vodka as while smooth and easy going, there is also a clear trace of the base material's agricultural origin, allowing you to taste true provenance.
Still unsure about the Martini (really?!)? If so, our final tip for those a little hesitant about the crisp, sharp booze-on-booze nature of the drink, is to add a splash of Orange Bitters. They add an additional citrussy hint to the mix and tend to round out some of the sharper elements.
Hopefully this blog helps you feel empowered to make the right choice for you, but we never rest on our laurels. Soon, you will also be able filter search for Martini in the Gin and Aperitif categories, where we will show you the most relevant brands that we’ve tested in the cocktail and that we know to work well for it. It's a lot of data to wrangle, but we're almost there so keep your eyes peeled. Happy mixing folks!