I recently had a martini at Graphic that changed my mind about this simple, yet classic, cocktail. So, girding my wallet, I sprang for some vermouth (Lillet Blanc) and a martini glass (more on that in another post) as well as some Seagram’s Extra Dry, which will have to wait for another day.
My DIY martini kit arrived on Friday as planned, just in time for some weekend imbibing and here is what I got up to…
Starting on the sweeter-side of the spectrum, I tried a 3:1 ratio of No.3 gin to Lillet Blanc.
Very clear and smooth martini with the juniper of the No.3 shining through. The citrus of the Lillet Blanc and the twist really complimented the gin and rounded it out nicely.
As with the G&T though, I felt that mixing this gin diminished its outstanding quality somewhat.
No.3 Dry Martini
No.3 is claimed to be the “last word in gin for a dry martini”, so I took it drier by moving down to a 8:1 ratio of No.3 to Lillet Blanc.
This is much truer to the neat gin. The little splash of Lillet Blanc brought just enough citrus and other fruitiness to the mix to really round out the No.3. This was crisp, clear, juniper-heavy and had an incredible clarity of taste. I am not sure I prefer this over the neat gin though – it is that good.
Old Raj Martini
It has been suggested that I try the formerly maligned Old Raj gin in a martini to appreciate all it has to offer. Being slightly harsh and bitter I stuck with the sweeter 3:1 ratio for this one. I threw in a splash of orange bitters as well.
Blimey, what a martini this was. In spite of it being very cold, this was an incredibly warming drink with a nose full of warms spiciness. Really very rounded and comforting. I have found a home for the rest of my Old Raj.
Tanqueray 10 Martini
On Saturday, my wife and I went out to a cocktail bar (Michael Cain’s). We had managed to sent our boy off to a friends’ house for a sleep-over and headed to the bright lights of Exeter for some child-free entertainment. My first drink of the night was a martini; Tanqueray 10 and Noilly Pratt. I didn’t get the ratios as I thought it best to pay more attention to my lovely wife that the bartender.
The resinous, herbaceous aromatic twang of the chamomile was supported very well by the vermouth. A very complex and deep flavour. Well rounded and quite unique.
On Sunday (with a bit of a hangover) I infused some Whitley Neill gin with some Earl Grey tea, as per this recipe, although I only made 100ml and infused for just 20 mins (based on the fact that I like my earl grey weak and black). It ended up a beautiful rich tea colour (odd that) and perfectly clear.
Didn’t have any eggs worthy of the name “fresh” so omitted the egg white and used Gomme instead of simple syrup in an attempt to add some texture (I knew I would find a use for that gum arabic I had kicking around).
The tea adds a slight bitterness to the gin and the finished drink is a very decadent assault of subtle citrus flavours backed with the floral and woody notes that bergamot brings with it. All of this was underpinned by tea (unsurprisingly). All-in-all a very good brew.
So, there we have it; the experimentations of a martini noob. I have a tremendous new respect for the (not so) humble martini. There is such variation to be had and it is almost a category of drink unto itself – not just one cocktail. The weekend’s imbibing wasn’t restricted to martinis either, but the rest of it isn’t particularly relevant to this post; needless to say, Sunday was dominated by after-effects of our Bacchanalian excesses.