Who knows how the various ‘Days’ of our calendar are selected? It feels like there is a little bureaucratic bunker somewhere determining that the tenth day of the sixth month of the year 2023 shall henceforth be World Gin Day. Great gig if you can get it. But for now, it gives us a chance to celebrate some of the things we love and one of those things is definitely gin. And one of the best ways to present said spirit, is in the mother of all cocktails, the top dog, The Martini.
Young bartenders out there, don’t be fooled by its simplicity. The art and presentation of a great martini is what can set you and your bar apart. Whether it be tableside service, your unique spin (an apricot rinse or a proprietary blend of bitters), it really is the quintessential and classic way to serve gin.
“But there are a couple of things about a good Martini that are not up for debate. It must be cold. And by cold, I mean as close to frozen as humanly possible without being frozen. And if you dare pour that Martini into a glass that isn’t cold, you may as well pour it down the drain.”
I believe this anonymous quote sums it up to perfection: “I’m not talking a cup of cheap gin splashed over an ice cube. I’m talking satin, fire and ice; Fred Astaire in a glass; surgical cleanliness, insight… comfort; redemption and absolution. I’m talking Martini.”
Adding to the perfection of this regal drink is the variety of ways you can serve it (or request it to be served). 50:50, wet, dry, dirty, with a twist, with olives, with cocktail onions. But there are a couple of things about a good Martini that are not up for debate. It must be cold. And by cold, I mean as close to frozen as humanly possible without being frozen. And if you dare pour that Martini into a glass that isn’t cold, you may as well pour it down the drain.
Bar Planet in Enmore is all about Martinis. Their own BP Martini is poured theatrically from a Porrón, a glass pitcher of Catalonian origin with a narrow spout. They also offer a Martini soda, a Mouthful (mini) Martini or “How you like it”, championing Australian and Kiwi Gins and Vodkas. The base spirit for the Bar Planet martini is something unique, made in collaboration with local distillery Poor Toms. It is an ‘Infinite Spirit’ of which 300L of each batch made, when that gets down to the last 20L, beverage director Jeremy Blackmore and Harrison Kenney will work on a new flavoured gin that will be added to the existing one – essentially making a living, constantly changing Martini. ‘It’s the mother stock of martinis’, says Bar Manager, Harrison Kenney.
At Piccolo Bar in late 2023, we were lucky enough to have legendary bartender and drinks encyclopaedia, Mr Angus Winchester, come into the bar for one night only and offer up a full martini menu. This illustrates the various ways some industry legends such as Dave Wondrich serve their Martini. Wondrich’s offering is a Bellringer, 4 parts gin to 1 part vermouth, stirred and served with an apricot-rinsed glass. The Hoshi Martini uses two gins and a side shot of chilled vermouth.
Martini trolleys abound. You can find table-side Martini service at Dean & Nancy’s on 22, Tiva in Sydney and Dr Gimlette in Brisbane, among others. Our Drinks Writer and the man behind the list at Sydney cocktail bar Tiva, Jono Carr is passionate about a quality Martini. He says you need “Quality ingredients, dilution, temperature, and the garnish” to make it work.
“A great Martini is the sum of its parts, an amazing Vodka or Gin deserves a quality vermouth and perfect dilution (and a dash of orange bitters is a nice touch). Temperature is important, it should be as cold as you can possibly serve it so keep it in the freezer if you can. As such, If you’re garnishing with olives, keep them chilled or leave them on the side. A room-temperature olive dumped into a cold martini equals a room-temperature martini.”
His final word? “Drinking Martinis is a fun ritual, do it with good company and it’ll taste even better.”
Cavendish House Martini
“This drink draws on a lot of inspiration from one of my favourite cocktails called an Astoria, a 50/50 Martini with orange bitters and orange twist. The butteriness of the vermouth helps soften the zesty high-proof gin, resulting in a dry martini that is textural and full-bodied. Served with a selection of three types of olive, the intention is to align each sip and olive with the changing temperature of the martini.” – Cameron Parish, Gimlet
10ml White Vermouth Blend (Dolin Dry, Belsazar Riesling Vermouth, Cocchi Americano, Lemon verbena vinegar)
2 dash Orange Bitters
Selection of olives – Sicilian, Ligero, Gordal
White Vermouth Blend
Stir and serve in a chilled martini glass
Piccolo Bar Classic Gin Martini
10ml Noilly Prat
Add all ingredients into a mixing glass and stir vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into a Nick and Nora. Garnish with a lemon zest or olive
Atlas Signature Martini
This is the house Martini at Singapore’s Atlas; the champagne vinegar gives a fruity, floral character as well as some acid and bite; the pomelo zest provides a local touch.
15ml Mancino Bianco Ambrato Vermouth
2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange Bitters
5 dashes of champagne vinegar
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a zest of pomelo (discarded), then a lemon twist.
Recipe by Atlas Grand Lobby & Bar