The origin of the martini is a hotly debated topic but it’s believed to have gained popularity from the 1870s onward. The original martini was prepared with gin and sweet vermouth and would have had a much sweeter flavour than the cocktails that are served today. As time went on, the quantities were adjusted in favour of a higher percentage of gin and less vermouth. A deceptively simple blend, bartenders are known to spend years perfecting their signature martini and The Leopard Lounge Bar at The Chesterfield Palm Beach serves 14 different varieties of the drink. The vodka martini is also hugely popular and is famously known as the tipple of choice for the fictional character James Bond. Whether its gin or vodka that makes your perfect martini, it should have a proof of above 40% so that the flavours are detectable in the finished cocktail.
As Food & Beverage Manager at The Chesterfield Palm Beach, Greg Palmer knows a thing or two about making the perfect martini. His favourite one to prepare for guests is The Strawberry Chesterfield because, ‘It is the perfect combination of sweet and little bit of spice. I start with muddling three strawberries, then adding ice, then 2 oz. of Tito’s Vodka, ½ oz. of an orange liqueur, a ½ oz. of fresh strawberry purée, and a splash of jalapeno juice. After that I shake it for 30 seconds to get it nice and cold till there are ice crystals forming on top. Afterwards, I pour the liquid into a frozen martini glass, and add the finishing touches, which are a fresh strawberry and jalapeno slice on the rim of the glass. And last but not least, top the martini with a splash of Prosecco to add a little fizz.’
Whether you decide to stick to the classics or experiment with some new favourites, make sure you’re prepped and ready to go with these essential steps for making the perfect martini.
Begin with good ingredients
For a drink with only three ingredients, quality is paramount. Make sure you have plenty of ice as well as thoroughly chilled martini glasses. Place them in a freezer for at least one hour, as this ensures that the cocktail will be icy cold on serving, which is critical for a martini. Excellent quality gin or vodka and vermouth is key, as is a metal cocktail shaker and fresh produce for your desired garnish.The Leopard Classic Martini at The Leopard Lounge Bar is made using Ketel One Vodka, dry vermouth and finished with three olives.
Wet vs. dry
The difference between the two is the amount of spirit in comparison to vermouth, with a wetter version meaning more vermouth and a drier style allowing for more spirit. Dry martinis have become fashionable in recent times but a wet martini is a great choice for those wishing to sip on a less potent concoction.
Shaken or stirred
While James Bond always requests his martini be ‘shaken not stirred,’ martini lovers have differing opinions concerning the optimum way to prepare the cocktail. A shaken martini will, as the name suggests, be more vigorously prepared and may well appear cloudier in colour. It also requires a cocktail shaker whereas a stirred martini can be made in almost any vessel. Bartenders advise caution when opting for a shaken martini as too much movement can over-dilute the spirit.
Choice of garnish
Again, because the martini requires so few ingredients, a well-thought-out choice of garnish counts for a lot. Base your decision on the flavours already apparent in the spirit and pick a garnish that’s going to compliment and draw out those tastes. Keep it simple with citrus peel, a great addition to both gin and vodka, making sure you carefully squeeze the peel skin-side down into the glass. Alternatively, a dirty Martini is served with plain, pitted olives and the trick here is to squeeze the olives slightly so that their flavour can be pleasingly muddled with the cocktail.
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