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The martini remains a classic

06-Mar-2010 • Bond Style

Often considered the Cadillac of classic cocktails, the martini has always had a loyal following, explains The Times & Transcript.

The staple prop of the big and small screen, everyone from the well-dressed set in black and white movies of the 1930s to action-star James Bond (Mr. Shaken, Not Stirred himself) and the crew from the long running television series M*A*S*H, who rigged up a home-made still, enjoyed a martini after a long day.

The makings for the traditional martini are quite simple. Only two spirits are involved, gin and vermouth. Vodka can be substituted for gin when making a "vodkatini".

Needless to say, the better the quality of these two ingredients, the better your martini will taste. And with the uniquely shaped drinking glass and, of course, green olives, this is a drink well worth the splurge.

Gin is a clear spirit most often flavoured with the juniper berry. These berries are commercially grown in Italy, Croatia, the U.S. and Canada.

Other botanicals are also used and each distiller uses their own recipe to create a unique-tasting product. Wheat or rye grain is usually used in the distilling process. This creates a spirit light in body.

This spirit has come a long way since the days when it was masked as a "medicinal" product that led to much public drunkenness in merry old England!

This resulted in a temporary prohibition known as The Gin Act of 1736 by the government of the day. A feeble attempt at best!

Vermouth is similar to gin in that it too is infused with botanicals and was produced for medicinal use. As many as 40 different plants, seeds, peels, etc. can be found in the many brands of vermouth. The majority of vermouth production lies in the south of France and northern Italy. Vermouth starts out as white wine which is sweetened, then fortified with unaged brandy.

There are three types of vermouth: Rosso (red), Bianco (white), and dry. Red vermouth gets its colour from the addition of caramel. Bianco is the choice for the classic martini. Martini & Rossi, Cinzano, Stock (all from Italy) and Noilly Prat of France are leaders in the vermouth category.

To make your classic martini, you will need a martini cocktail glass, cocktail pick, a strainer (to strain the ice from the ingredients), gin, vermouth, green olives and ice. Ideally, the glasses and shaker should be chilled by putting them in the freezer ahead of time. Some die-hards prefer to have their martinis stirred rather than shaken. This is to prevent the ice from diluting the drink. That is simply a matter of personal preference!

Classic Dry Martini

6 parts Gin

1 part dry white Vermouth

Ice to fill shaker

Combine all in a strainer. Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with an olive.

Dirty Martini

6 parts Gin

1 part extra dry Vermouth

1 part olive juice

Combine and strain as above.

Of course, the martini has come a long way from these classics. From the popular Appletini to the Chocolate Martini, the possibilities are indeed endless. Experiment and find your favourite!

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