June 19th is National Martini Day. As if any excuse were needed for a cocktail. Martini is the classic cocktail and makes it onto any list of the world’s top 10 cocktails.
“Good quality ingredients
is the way to go”
Like so many of the best things in life- a bag of chips, or a pie and a pint-it’s a simple pleasure. Gin (or vodka) and vermouth, garnished with an olive. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. And it oozes sophistication. You never see James Bond with a bag of chips or a pie and a pint.
Despite its simplicity, or maybe because of it, there are lots of definitions of what makes a proper Martini, lots of different ways to make one and endless refinements. Vodka or gin? Red or white vermouth? Shaken or stirred? Wet or dry? On the rocks? With a twist of lemon?
Purists insist that a Martini is a mixture of gin and vermouth garnished with an olive-nothing more and nothing less-but it really all boils down to one thing. Taste. To each their own.
According to woman about town Charlie Hooson-Sykes, the right gin and the right vermouth (if you’re not making a Churchill Martini) are key.
“Good quality ingredients is the way to go,” says Charlie. “Learn whether you like wet or dry Martinis and then invest in a good vermouth. Dolin is a great example. Also, if, like me, you’re a dirty Martini fan, invest in good olives. It also tells in your gin or vodka.
“There are some incredible vodkas out there to play with and each offers a different flavour or mouthfeel. The same with gin – a floral gin isn’t going to work so well in a dirty Martini, but might work beautifully in a wet style one. If you’re not sure, find a good bartender worth their weight in gold.”
So we did. We asked Susie Wong, a 24-carat bona fide Manchester bartender and mixologist extraordinaire, how to make the perfect Martini.
Susie Wong’s Perfect Martini
- Choose your spirit. Vodka or gin. Mine would be Forest Gin but I also do like Warner Edwards and Gin Mare.
- Choose your vermouth. I prefer Dolin Dry Vermouth
- Stir ice cubes in a mixing glass to get rid of excess water so no extra dilution is needed. Strain off the excess water
- Add 10ml dry vermouth. Because I like it wet.
- Add 60ml gin
- Add 2 barspoons of olive brine. Because I like it dirty.
- Stir for 2-3 minutes then strain into a chilled Martini glass and garnish with three olives.
There are countless variations on the classic gin/vermouth/olive Martini, from absinthe Martini to zorbatini (vodka and ouzo). Someone has even come up with a Bacontini, which consists of bacon-infused vodka and is served with a garnish that includes strips of bacon and olives.
Gusto came up with the Manchester Martini, a cocktail with a Vimto flavour made with Plymouth Gin, Plymouth Sloe Gin, Chambord, fresh apple juice and garnished with grapes. Unfortunately, it was a fund raiser for Forever Manchester and is no longer available. Maybe they’ll bring it back if we ask them nicely. But one thing’s for certain. If it’s called a Manchester Martini, it’s got to be wet. With a black cocktail umbrella.
Happy Martini Day.
Please enjoy responsibly. Hic!