Sunday Brunch 3 Martini Lunch
For all of you who saw Olivier present a “3 Martini Lunch” on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch this weekend – here are the three recipes he featured for you to try at home.
No other cocktail is shrouded in as much myth, folklore, fame and legend as the Martini. Anyone who loves this cocktail will most likely have also formed strong opinions on how best to make it, serve it and when to drink it too.
We’ve always remembered the advice given to us at the start of our drinks careers: If ever you go traveling and you find yourself lost, alone or in need of company, start making a Martini. Instantly, someone will come along to tell you that you are making it wrong followed by two others who disagree, offering up their own interpretations.
Truth-be-told however, for as great as it is that each person has their unique take on the cocktail, there has been many crimes committed against the Martini in recent years.
From ruining it by using oxidised and vinegary vermouths, which have been abandoned on back bars and in cabinets for too long (it may be fortified but it’s still a wine – so keep it in the fridge and drink up folks!), to just choosing to use bad vermouth in the first place. This was followed by the trend for bartenders gravitating towards what they deemed as a “properly” made Martini… With many opting for ratios higher than 10 parts gin to 1 part vermouth, less face it, the cocktail had been reduced to essentially serving up cold gin in a glass!
Perhaps the worst cocktail offenders to the cult of the classic Martini however, began with the 90’s and early 00’s trend to name anything served “up” with a moniker containing a “tini” attached to the end; no mater what crime was in the glass. Appletini, we’re looking at you here. This swathe of disco-tini’s did much to reduce the time honoured status of the Martini (namely as they had nothing to do with Martinis at all!) and put off a new generation of drinkers from taking the cocktail seriously.
Thankfully, with the world awash with Gin once more, the classic Martini has benefited from the spirit’s resurgence and is making a comeback. There’s more of an acceptance of the classic concoction’s heritage now, more information about the often long and convoluted history behind it, alongside more attention going into partnering gins with new, fresh and exciting vermouths.
To celebrate this and help inform you all about this iconic cocktail’s history, we’ve put together a three martini brunch going back in the gin archives and bringing it into what most people would associate as a “classic” Martini today. From 1888 to 2016, here are three cocktails for you to try at home – Time to wind that clock back…
Pre 1900’s, the Martini would have been most likely served with Sweet Vermouth and either Genever (a precursor to Gin) or Old Tom Gin. Early recipes for the Martini’s forefather, the Martinez call for “Italian” vermouth (in other words Sweet Vermouth) and “Hollands” (Genever), while one of the first clear references to the Martini – Harry Johnson’s ‘New & Improved Bartender’s Manual‘ (1888) – follows on in a similar vein.
However, getting hold of Vintage 1900’s gin to concoct a historical recreation is both difficult and very expensive, plus a ½ Cup of Gin (as the original recipe calls for) would amount to a punchy Martini! So, here is an adapted recipe based Harry Johnson’s for you to try – It’s a cross between a Martinez and aims to demonstrate the beginning of the Martini journey starting off sweet and complex, over the years moving towards dry and aromatic.
Pre-1900’s Martini Cocktail
25ml Sweet Vermouth
1 dash of Elderflower Liqueur
3 dashes of Boker’s Bitters
Zest a orange and discard.
We’ve used Blackwater Juniper Cask Gin to make this gin as it combines both the traditional dry gin elements (booming juniper, zingy coriander seed, the warming spice of cinnamon and nutmeg and touch of citrus), along with the resinous sappy qualities of juniper wood. The combination makes for a deep, rich and complex cocktail.
It’s also worth noting that while a new player in the gin category (They launched in late 2014), Blackwater No.5 Gin was designed from top to bottom using only the botanicals imported into Ireland by White’s of Waterford during the 19th century. Not only did White’s import kilos after kilos of exotic spices, they also ran a shipyard and their vessels crisscrossed the globe importing tea from China and botanicals from the infamous ‘Spice Islands’.
Both the Dry gin and this variant are delicious by modern standards, but the Juniper Cask is also a good example of a gin that might have plausibly existed back in the pre 1900’s era, as many distilleries would still have sold their spirits barrels to bars, using all types of wood they had to hand and not just Oak. The slower the gin was served in Gin Palaces the more aged they would have been! Tasty.
The typical recipes of the 20’s & 30’s that can be found elsewhere reflect a shift from Sweet to Dry Vermouth, larger doses of gin in the ratio and less other additions such as liqueurs and sugar. One cocktail stands out in particular in highlighting all these facts and is in the landmark Savoy Cocktail Book, the Marguerite.
50ml Martin Miller’s Gin
25ml Dry Vermouth
1 dash of orange bitters
Garnish with an orange twist
We’ve used Martin Miller’s Gin as it’s both soft and accessible but doesn’t get drowned out, perfect with a higher dose of Vermouth. The Gin, perhaps ironically as it was one of the first of this new Gin Renaissance having launched in 1999, remains a great choice to use to introduce people to gin. Soft, light and with a citrus forward profile, it’s the type of gin that delivers a juniper edge, yet with a fresh acidity and once in a Marguerite forms a cocktail that’s all too easy to have 2 or 3 in quick succession. Combined with Belsazar White Vermouth in particular, the orange elements are accentuated further but we tend to lean towards Cocci Americano or Lillet Blanc and let the orange bitters do their work.
For the third instalment of this 3 Brunch Martini journey brings us right up to the modern day. Call for a Dry Martini in a bar now and you’ll find most bars favouring 6 to 1 ratios of gin to vermouth or higher. This is just a continuation of the same trend that has been progressing for over 100 years, yet, one that seems to be nearing its end. The move towards, shorter “dryer” (i.e. less vermouth) Martinis is slowing down. Barkeeps and cocktail enthusiasts are seeking more of a balance, looking to compliment new gins with new vermouths in different ratios and in doing so, have helped explode the Martini back into life.
In every blind tasting we’ve ever participated in, the group’s preferred Martini has always been one with around 3 to 4 parts Gin to 1 part Vermouth. With both elements contributing so much to the drink, we think this ratio is the perfect harmony, but be sure to tinker to find your perfect balance.
40ml Conker Gin,
Garnish with a de-stoned Olive
We’ve used Conker Gin for this classic Martini recipe, not because it’s a classically styled gin, but because it’s reflective of the new wave of small batch gin makers. The intriguing new combinations of flavours in gins like Conker have been breathing new life into the Martini even when kept to the archetypal recipe.
The fresh Dorset notes of elberberries, samphire and handpicked gorse flowers make Conker Gin refreshing and with intriguing depth. We’ve paired it with Belsazar Dry Vermouth here so that the freshness was accentuated.
History lesson over and out! Whichever Martini recipe you prefer (click here if you want some inspiration for a few more Martini variations) and whatever gin you choose to make it with – we hope this 3 Martini Brunch has provided some context for what is surely the King of Gin cocktails. If nothing else, it gives you an excuse to try something new and if ever you are questioned, just quote President Gerald Ford 1978 quip in saying: “The three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency. Where else can you get an earful, a bellyful and a snootful at the same time?”
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