I have never really enjoyed a home made martini (probably due to a really poor choice of vermouth), so during my recent visit to Graphic I thought that this might be a good opportunity to try a “good” martini.
I managed to get over my initial sense of being overwhelmed by the choice of gin and not knowing where to start, by asking the barman for a martini “to his recommendation”. I couldn’t work out of he looked quite pleased with this, or whether he was reeling in shock from someone coming to this bar not knowing what they wanted, but in a flurry of obviously very practised activity he produced me a martini in a process that both impressed and made sense.
Little details like rubbing the twist of lemon peel around the glass stem (leaving my fingers smelling lemony after handling), around the rim of the class (increasing the lemony attack without putting too much in the drink itself) and squeezing the zest over the surface of the drink (again, increasing the nose and attack of the drink without making it a lemon-based cocktail) all left me pleased and amazed in equal measure; this was not only practised, but incredibly well thought out.
Anyway, I am prattling at length about the lemon, and haven’t told you what was being made. After being presented with my drink, he explained what went into it and his preference for a more classic martini. What he made was this…
- 3 parts Beefeater 24
- 1 part Lillet Blanc
- A dash of orange bitters
(at least I thought he said three-to-one).
Initially, I was a little disappointed that he reached for the Beefeater 24. I had tried this at home and wasn’t overly impressed, but I had asked for his recommendation, so I wasn’t about to object; I am glad I didn’t.
The approach between glass and mouth was overwhelmingly lemon. I could see the lemon oil floating on the top and inhaling over the glass was a lemony experience in the extreme.
However, in the tasting, it was like shutting the door on a noisy outside world, the lemon faded away and a comforting and complex flavour flooded in. I was truly surprised. The flavours were subtle and delicate and the expected lemon-assault never materialised. There was also none of the harshness of the Beefeater 24 that I had experienced neat and in the G&T – it was a smooth drink and very pleasing.
I have found a “good” martini. Time to invest in some Lillet Blanc.