Martinis: How to prepare James Bond’s favourite
Across the 21 Ian Fleming books and short stories, Bond consumes 1,150 units of alcohol in 88 days, or 92 units a week
Whilst I can certainly put away a few gin and tonics on a Friday evening, I’m sure we can all agree that this is a quite serious quantity of booze. For a man who drinks so much, you’d think that he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to a good cocktail, and Bond’s most famous is, of course, a vodka martini. Whilst it isn’t actually the most common drink that features in the books, the “shaken, not stirred” vodka martini has transcended the franchise and is possibly one of the most recognisable alcohol-related phrases in Western culture. We thought it was only right to celebrate the release of Spectre with a guide on how to best enjoy the variations of his favourite refreshments.
The base spirit
Whilst a classic martini is made with gin, no one knows the exact origins of the cocktail. The earliest version of a martini was likely invented in the late 19th or early 20th century, and the name is possibly from the Martini brand of vermouth, although another theory suggests that the moniker is derived from the town of Martinez, whose residents claim that the drink was first created there. As the vodka martini didn’t become a popular drink until at least the 1960s, gin is the preferred spirit for a “true” martini, and purists may turn their noses up at the comparatively flavourless vodka version that James Bond prefers.
Shaking or stirring?
The reason for shaking a martini is to make the drink as cold as possible and cause ice crystals to form on the top the drink. Some might prefer the appearance of these crystals in their drink, but they will quickly dissolve and leave you with a watery cocktail. Stirring a cocktail dissolves the ice more gradually and leaves no ice shards in the drink, and most bartenders would recommend the stirring method over 007’s preferred shaken martini.
Wet or dry?
How much vermouth you use in your martini will hugely affect the flavour of the drink. A “dry” martini uses very little vermouth, sometimes no more than half a teaspoon. A “wet” martini will use more vermouth and will have a more bitter flavour from the botanicals in the aromatized wine. Bond prefers a dry martini but it’s a matter of taste.
Additives and garnish
Adding olive brine is a common (and delicious) variation – order a “dirty” martini for a savoury hit. A less common additive is a splash of whisky, which creates a “burnt” martini. In terms of garnish, an olive or a twist of lemon are the classics, but you could try adding a pickled onion for a Gibson Martini.
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