It’s fair to say that I drink Martinis throughout the year, both for professional and personal reasons, and I’ve said elsewhere on a few occasions, the intention of why your drinking one is absolutely key.
It’s also true to that even I, dear reader, sometimes craft a Martini that is less than perfect. I know, right? The fault usually lies in me, my mood, too hasty, not present enough in the mixing, something about the stresses of the day finding it’s way in the glass.
But sometimes it’s the environment.
Summer and humidity are particularly challenging for enjoying a Martini in my experience (and yes, I know there are folks in the tropics who enjoy their cocktails on the rocks) and whilst I like the notion of sipping al fresco watching the sunset, I end up retreating to my air conditioned living room to preserve the life expectancy of my cocktail for otherwise I can feel it getting warmer by the second.
I go to some lengths to mitigate this, such as serving half size cocktails in frozen glasses and rotating them frequently. Of course, my starting point is frozen gin from the freezer and chilled mixing set and glassware. But there should be a carbon offset scheme for Martini drinkers I think to mitigate this not very eco-friendly solution!
Then there is the sidecar setup, where you have a martini portion served on the side in a basin of ice (crushed ice is best by the way), and so you can top up your glass as you go with chilled mix. Not seen often in the wild, but recommended.
In it he states:
“Take the question of coldness. The ideal state for the martini – as cold as domestic refrigeration can make it, or the nearest we can get to it- exists just after it is made, exists perhaps for minutes at the most at the advent, but from then on it is warming up. But the warming of the martini by our hand should be seen as part of its nature. From the time we begin to drink the martini, the chill is going from the drink; the illusion of its pristine perfection is fading before us as reach out to grasp it.”
So with the arrival of cooler months, the tension that I feel when making a Martini during Summer fades and instead of crafting a Martini in angst against climate change, I can enjoy the ritual from end to end.
In another fine exploration of the Martini, Martini, Straight Up by the American author Lovell Edmunds, in this very erudite work, he posits that the “The Martini is sensitive, the Martini is tough.”
In that chapter he says,
“Whilst the Martini-mixer believes he can affect the drink, he also believes that the drink can affect him, more powerfully than he can affect it. The Martini is tougher than it is sensitive. The toughness lies in its punch. The Martini-drinker and others believe that the Martini is a drunk of unique power.”
So with that air of risk and frisson in mind, and one has a serious day job, so a weeknight cocktail also comes with it something of a risk assessment. At my best I consider the spirit of choice, which vermouth, which glass, the best garnish for that combination and all the other permutations, such as ambience.
But as I said earlier it is the intent of my drinking that it key: am I crafting one for pure comfort and relaxation, want to experiment with a new spirit, or want to mark the occasion with something special in terms of ingredients.
The cooler months mean that there is more contemplation, and my Martinis tend to go one of two ways overall: the pristine style of a frozen gin Dry Martini, say with either Plymouth, or Jensen’s or perhaps a bold Aviation with a hint of Dry Vermouth. Or I lean into the Dirty or Gibson style of Martini with my own curated brine for a cocktail enabling a more leisurely still cocktail experience as those versions aren’t so time sensitive as the classic Dry style.
Elsewhere, spicier versions of the Martini are making an appearance suitable for Winter cocktails such as reversing the Vermouth and Gin ratios, switching out Dry Vermouth with Dry Sherry (this is quite enjoyable by the way), and even introducing Tequila in lieu of Vodka or Gin, as explored in Punch magazine.
Finally, here’s an episode from my YouTube channel with looks at Vermouth ratios and crafting a 50/50 version, one of the older style that lends itself well for some contemplative, leisurely sipping. Mix yourself something agreeable, get comfy and I hope you find the episode enjoyable and informative.
So just some reflections on some of the thought process that occur to me come cocktail hour, and my thanks to long time Instagram follower Yvette Monique for her suggestion for this week’s theme!