James Bond is a `martini maverick` says cocktail expert
Surely there is no such thing as a bad martini. Isnât it just a large amount of gin or vodka, with a bit of vermouth, in a fancy glass? Not so, says Alessandro Palazzi, bar manager at Londonâs Dukes Hotel. âA martini is like a steak â itâs very easy to ruin.â Dukesâ bar was one of Ian Flemingâs haunts and inspired 007âs favourite tipple â a vodka martini with an olive, âshaken not stirredâ - reports the Financial Times
I am attending one of Palazziâs martini masterclasses. He has served 80 martinis already, and it is only 7pm on a Saturday night. I look around the small bar: the elegant international clientele look remarkably sober.
The classic martini is what the cognoscenti flock to Dukes for. Gin, vermouth and a twist of lemon â custom-made in front of you. A small trolley displays a frozen bottle of gin, an even more frozen glass, a decanter of vermouth and a lemon. There is no shaker in sight. âJames Bond was a maverick,â Palazzi says. âHe asked for his martini shaken just to make an entrance.â
Palazzi talks us through the importance of a frozen glass; those served at Dukes are also smaller and deeper than most. And the gin? Palazzi recommends Tanqueray No.10 â 48 per cent alcohol, with juniper from Florence. It must be frozen, too, âOtherwise itâs like a punch in the face.â The vermouth is Lillet, a vin cuit from around Bordeaux.
Palazzi swirls the glass with a splash of Lillet and fills it with gin. He then slices a swirl of lemon zest (unwaxed lemons from Amalfi only, please), spritzes it into the glass, twists the rind and elegantly plops it into the glass. Et voilÃ .
It is very chilled, very fragrant and very potent. What did Fleming himself drink? âBourbon,â says Palazzi, with a smile.
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