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Cocktail Hour: The Dry Gin Martini

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 5, 2016

Spring is just around the corner, and when the weather turns warmer, I begin to think about summertime drinks, and one of those libations which I have began to enjoy more and more is a Classic Martini. Gin is the original Martini spirit and the beginnings of this cocktail form was perhaps initiated as early as 1888 when a recipe for a serving 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). From that point forward this simple drink slowly underwent an evolution into the present day Gin Martini.

The popularity of this cocktail flourished under Prohibition as its main ingredient, Gin, was very easy for any illicit establishment to produce, and by the time prohibition had ended, the Gin Martini may well have been the most popular bar drink served in North America. And today, the cocktail remains extremely popular, although perhaps it has been eclipsed by its less flavourful cousin, the Vodka Martini (which arrived somewhat later on the scene).

The Gin Martini can be served at varying degrees of dryness depending upon the amount of aromatized wine (usually vermouth) used in its construction. Traditional recipes found in the cocktail guides from the 1920’s usually recommend a ratio of gin to vermouth of 2:1 whereas modern recipes are much drier and contain ratios as low as 10:1 or even served without vermouth at all (which perhaps makes the serving essentially an ice-cold gin with garnish).

Gilpin's Dry MartiniMy recommendation is to use fresh vermouth and experiment until you find the ratio which serves your palate the best. For a nice dry martini I suggest a traditional London Dry Gin such as Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dy Gin. For this particular gin I found a ratio of 5:1 worked well as at this ratio the vermouth and the garnish provide a lovely accent, yet they allow the gin to shine.

For this particular recipe I have chosen a Spanish Olive to garnish the cocktail. The light saltiness which accompanies the Olive works very well with almost every dry gin.

Gin Martini (with Spanish Olive)

2 1/2 oz Gilpin’s Westmorland Gin
1/2 oz Vermouth
Spanish Olive

Add the gin and vermouth into a large mixing glass with ice
Stir for about two minutes until the sides of the glass are very cold
Strain into a chilled martini glass
Add a Spanish Olive (fresh from the jar)

Of course, you should enjoy responsibly!

If  you are interested in more cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more mixed drink recipes!

Note: I have made this point with respect to the Vodka Martini, and it bears repeating 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 immediately, and after only one short week (even if the bottle is refrigerated) its flavour will have undergone an undesirable change. I strongly suspect that it is experiences with bad vermouth that have led many people to decrease its volume in the classic martini cocktail to almost nothing at all, 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 cocktails. Your Martinis will be better for it.

My gin binge continues with three more gin reviews in the following week including my review of Gilpin’s Westmorland Gin which will be published tomorrow, Chimo!

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