If you ask a bartender or cocktail fanatic, it’s likely they’ll tell you there is only one actual recipe for a martini and it involves nothing but gin and vermouth, with a couple of olives if you’re desperate for a garnish. However, like most things in the food and beverage world (and the world in general I suppose), the definition of a martini has evolved with trends and common usage.
These days it’s common to see an entire section of a menu devoted to martinis. As far as I can tell, the main criteria for these lists is the shape of the glass the drink is served in, rather than having anything to do with the original martini recipe.
I’m not quite as traditional as some people, but I do believe the name martini should have some meaning.
To me, a martini has the following elements:
- A clear spirit (preferably gin, but vodka if you have to)
- A savoury/sweet accent (traditionally vermouth)
- A garnish that emphasizes one aspect of the flavour profile (traditionally olives)
With that profile in mind, I submit my current favourite martini variant:
- 2 ounces Gin (I’m currently mixing with Tanqueray)
- ½ ounce Aperol
- Lemon twist garnish
While James Bond’s tagline is catchy (“shaken, not stirred”), shaking a martini with ice just dilutes it more quickly, and is not necessary with such a short list of all-alcohol ingredients. I recommend stirring the gin and aperol vigorously with ice for about 5-8 seconds and then straining into a martini glass.
I hope you enjoy!