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Cover: Shaken and stirred

21Jun 12

The martini, a glamourous escape from reality

MartiniA couple of weeks ago, I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on a business trip. The company I was consulting for put me up at the Faena Hotel in a very fancy part of town, Puerto Madero. It’s actually a bit like the Lower East side of Manhattan, but with a Latin touch. On the Friday after my arrival, I wandered into the hotel’s bar, the Faena Cabaret, for a drink. The whole place looked like it was a set for the new James Bond saga, so I decided to order a cocktail fit for the occasion: a martini.

Even if the Martini became a worldwide classic with James Bond’s immortal phrase “shaken not stirred”, many other famous and powerful people have favoured this rather simple mix over the last hundred years. Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote, amongst others, have added to the lore of this cocktail which is linked to status, fame and glory. There is something about just ordering it which transports one to a better place, where dreams and real life collide, if only for a while.

The exact origin of the martini is unclear. One theory suggests it comes from a cocktail called a Martinez, which was first served at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco in 1862. According to the myth, people used to gather in this bar before taking the evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez. Another story claims it is named after a famous bartender who first concocted the drink at the Knickerbockers Hotel in New York City, in 1913.

A martini is made by mixing gin and dry vermouth, which is a fortified white wine, infused, distilled or macerated with herbs, spices, caramel and other ingredients. A quality martini should taste very clean and dry, go down smooth, and have some light herbal flavors (from the gin) and a little bit of tang (from the olives and vermouth).

Needed:

  • 3cl gin
  • 1.5cl dry vermouth
  • A couple of olives or lemon twist

How it’s made:
1.Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice.
2.Shake or stir for half a minute.
3.Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
4.Garnish with an olive or lemon twist.

Time: 3 minutes
Makes: 1 cocktail

Note: As you probably know, this is the classic martini, but there are an endless number of varieties. One such example is this Green Cowboy Martini. Not quite the original, but an interesting twist!

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