Classic Drink: Dry Gin Martini

Sunday, January 10, 2010
I enjoy leafing through a thick drinks menu in a good cocktail bar and picking out something I've never drunk before, carefully crafted by a skilled mixologist. However, the cocktail bars that can do this well are few and far between, and the majority will simply churn out the same few staples with little skill or flair. In any case, there is a time and a place for flamboyantly named and unusual cocktails, and it's well worth being able to order a few classic drinks, which any hotel or airport bar worth its salt will be able to serve.

The first in this list has to be the dry gin martini. It's one of almost infinite variations on the martini, but it's a solid choice and has the benefit of avoiding looking like a James Bond wannabe by ordering something overly complex. Sadly, it is a drink often made very badly. So, here are some instructions, either so you can make it yourself, or so that you can check that your bartender is doing it properly.

What to ask for: A dry gin martini

  • Take a cocktail glass, fill it almost to the top with crushed ice and top up with water. Place to one side.
  • Take a mixing glass and fill it with cubed ice.
  • Add a single shot of dry vermouth. Stir the ice and vermouth gently, with the intention of coating all the ice in vermouth.
  • Strain the vermouth into the sink, retaining the ice in the cocktail shaker.
  • Add a double measure of gin. As this drink is almost neat gin, it's worth choosing a brand you really like. I recommend Tanquery, but it's really up to you.
  • Stir the gin and ice.
  • Empty the ice and water out of your cocktail glass, and strain the gin into it.
  • Add olives on a cocktail skewer. I like to have 3, but more stingy bars might only give you one. A twist of lemon peel is an acceptable alternative, although I'm not a fan personally.

Pringles optional.

Other alternatives are not to ask for the martini dry, in which case the vermouth should be actually left in the drink in a ration of 1 part to four parts gin, as opposed to simply being used to coat the ice. My preference is to order the martini 'dirty', which means adding a small amount of brine from the olives to the gin when it is stirred.