Cocktail Profile: The Martini
If you intend to sit alone at a bar and have an existential crisis there are only two things you can opt to drink: one is the Martini, the other is a neat whisky. In summer, I advise you reach for the Martini. Along with deciding how to wear your hair as an adult, you must perfect the way you order a Martini. The first question you need to think about is, are you a gin person or a vodka person? If you’re not Russian, the answer is gin. Next, you should think about what that gin could go with: is it savoury? Is it bold? Is it navy strength? Is it spice-driven or citrus-led? These questions will give you some guidance as to what to do next. If you aren't sure, consult your local bartender. Experiment gleefully. If the answer to any question is 'drink gin in a variety of ways' you know that you're asking the right question.
A few things to play with while experimenting might include the ideal ratio of gin to vermouth. In many bars, you’ll find the bartender will suggest starting with a 5:1 ratio (50ml of gin to 10ml of dry vermouth) and here is the kicker that will trip up the virgin Martini drinker: the less dry vermouth the drier the Martini. I know. Craziness. Dry vermouth is sweeter (less dry) than gin, hence the confusion. If you ask for dry you'll probably be served a 5:1 (50ml to 5ml). If you ask for it wet you might be served something around the 40ml:20ml ratio. If you are very precise and call your ratio, you will offend no one. Mine does vary depending on the gin, but when tentatively meeting a new gin I’ll start off dry.
Next up, you'll need to decide on garnish (we have a handy guide to garnishing the Martini here). If you aren't sure, opt for the lemon twist (If you want to make your own twist here's how). It’s more often than not the right answer. If you have a savoury palate then you may opt for olives, and if you really love saltiness you may have it a little dirty (a touch of the olive brine is added to the mixing glass), but please for goodness sake don't order it filthy because that is your idea of flirting with the bartender. No one is impressed with a Dirty Martini. A dirty mind, maybe, but not a Martini.
So when you have sown your wild oats in the Martini world, walk into a bar, ditch the long face, and ask for a Martini your way. Mine is Archie Rose Distiller's Strength, very dry, with a twist.