Dish of the Day: How to… make the perfect Martini
Actually, there’s no such thing. Even the famous conundrum of whether this most classic of cocktails should be shaken or stirred is open to debate. While a certain Mr Bond advocates shaking and purists maintain stirring is the only way to go, in truth either is correct.
That’s not just our humble opinion. It’s something we learned earlier this week at a Know Your Martini session hosted by Claire Smith and Alessandro Palazzi. In her role as Head of Spirit Creation at Belvedere, Smith is regarded as The First Lady of Vodka and Palazzi, Bar Manager of Dukes hotel is known as the Martini king, so between them, we think they’ve got the Martini debate pretty much licked.
“There are infinite permutations of making a Martini,” says Smith. “But instead of thinking there are so many ways of getting it wrong, think of it as a way of freeing yourself of Martini orthodoxy.” In other words, don’t let anyone dictate how you should have yours (not even a certain Mr Robert De Niro with his penchant for muddled cucumber and shaking the life out of the drink for a good five minutes).
“Shaken Martinis are the high energy version of the cocktail,” continues Smith. “They’re lighter, cleaner, fresher, crisper and you get more dilution from the ice shards which float on top.” Palazzi agrees. “Many bartenders turn their nose up if a customer asks for a shaken Martini but really, there are no rules.”
Well, just a few. Like making sure your glassware is ice cold. Oh, and here where size does matter: “The larger your glass the warmer your drink will be – go for a four-and-a-half ounce or five ounce glass instead,” advises Smith.
Of course being from Belvedere, Smith champions a Martini with vodka as its base. But gin or even a mixture of the two white spirits aka The Vesper go down equally well. Vermouth plays a major role in the process: “We have an English vermouth made specially for us by a company called Sacred,” says Palazzi. For those of us who have to make do with off-the-shelf Smith advises experimenting to find your perfect fit. “Dolin and Lillet are personal favourites but play around. The same goes for garnishes: try orange, grapefruit, olives even lime – it’s really up to you.”
Three tips for the perfect Martini:
1. Chill your glasses: Ideally they should come straight from the freezer but chilling down with ice cubes beforehand does the job.
2. Whether your preference is for vodka, gin or both – go for quality ingredients.
3. If you’re stirring, aim for 90 seconds to two minutes; for the equivalent in shaking, go for three to five seconds.
Claire Smith’s Perfect Martini:
6 parts Belvedere Vodka
1 part Dolin Dry Vermouth
Garnished with a grapefruit twist
3 parts Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka
1 part Dolin Dry Vermouth
Garnished with an olive
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