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Martini Monday: The Gin Martini

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 29, 2015

Gin Martini

Gin Martini

Gin appears to be the original Martini spirit. There is some speculation as to how exactly this bar drink evolved, the beginnings of this cocktail form was perhaps initiated as early as 1888 when a recipe for a bar drink which consisted of half a wine glass of Old Tom Gin, and half a wine glass of Vermouth was published (Johnson, Harry (1888), The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders’ Manual; Or: How to Mix Drinks of the Present Style). Over time this simple bar drink evolved and changed into the present day Martini.  

Prohibition did its part to popularize the Martini as its main ingredient, Gin, was very easy for an illicit establishment to produce (illegally), and by the time prohibition ended, the Gin Martin may well have been the most popular bar drink served in North America.

Today, it remains a popular cocktail. Like the Vodka Martini (which arrived later on the scene), the Gin Martini can be served at varying degrees of dryness depending upon the amount of aromatized wine (usually vermouth) is used in its construction. The traditional recipes found in the cocktail guides from the 1920’s usually recommend a ratio of gin to vermouth of 2:1. Modern recipes contain much less vermouth, and in fact my brother-in-law’s favourite recipe calls for his cocktail glass to be rinsed with Vermouth only and the rest of the volume of his cocktail to be gin and garnish.

Traditional Gin Martini (cucumber garnish)

Traditional Gin Martini (cucumber garnish)

At the recent Belvedere Martini Seminar hosted by Ali Dedianko, Belvedere Vodka Global Ambassador, she made the point that we should perhaps explore also a larger range of garnishes than the typical olive or lemon peel. One of the garnishes she suggested was cucumber, and that is the direction I have chosen to go for this particular construction of my Gin Martini which combines No. 3 London Dry Gin and Stock Vermouth with thin slice of cucumber in an excellent Martini cocktail:

The following link will take you to my recipe page:

Gin Martini (with cucumber garnish)

Note: I made this point with respect to the traditional Vodka Martini, and it bears repeating again with respect to the Gin Martini. Once you open any bottle of vermouth, it is important that you realize that all aromatized wines have a very short shelf life. This is because the wine will begin to oxidize almost immediately, and after only one short week (even if the bottle is refrigerated) it’s flavour will have undergone a noticeable and undesirable change. I suspect in fact, that it is experiences with bad vermouth that have led many people to decrease its volume in the classic martini cocktail, not understanding that the vinegary component they are tasting is not a normal flavour component of good vermouth.

Please use fresh vermouth whenever you are serving Martini cocktails.

3 Responses to “Martini Monday: The Gin Martini”

  1. neandrewthal said

    It’s too bad how the vermouth goes off so fast. I’ve noticed that sweet red vermouth keeps significantly longer though.

    I wish more vermouths came in smaller bottles. A 750ml bottle of dry vermouth is a year’s worth for me and any martini-centric drinker who uses one in a week either likes their martini really wet, drinks too much or has more friends than me😉

    The next time I get a bottle I’m splitting it up into four smaller bottles right away.

    • Splitting your bottles is a really good idea as the smallest bottle of Vermouth I have ever found was a 375ml. Even this bottle holds too much Vermouth for me to use up unless I go crazy with martinis for week.

  2. Jackson,David [NCR] said

    First. Let me say how much I enjoy your newsletter. Terrific stuff. I must say tho I did have an issue with your recipe for the Vesper. In Casino Royale, the recipe was: 3 of Gordon’s, 1 of vodka and ½ Kina Lillet. Obviously Kina is unavailable so you could use the aperitif wine Lillet, which is available in Canada. I read you can also use Cocchi Americano (The Telegraph from June 19….World Martini Day, which I missed and must now make up….not even sure if Cocchi Americano is available in Canadian liquor stores.)

    David Jackson
    Canadian Ice Service
    Meteorological Service of Canada
    Environment Canada

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