Actually, there’s no such thing. Even the famous conundrum of whether this most classic of cocktails should be shaken or stirred is open to debate. While a certain Mr Bond advocates shaking and purists maintain stirring is the only way to go, in truth either is correct.

That’s not just our humble opinion. It’s something we learned earlier this week at a very informative Know Your Martini session hosted by Claire Smith and Alessandro Palazzi. In her role as Head of Spirit Creation at Belvedere, Smith is regarded as The Queen of Vodka and Palazzi, head bartender at world famous Dukes hotel is known as the Martini King so between them, we think they’ve got the Martini debate pretty much licked.

The Classic Belvedere Martini

“There are infinite permutations of making a Martini,” says Smith. “But instead of thinking there are so many ways of getting it wrong, think of it as a way of freeing yourself of Martini orthodoxy.” In other words, don’t let anyone dictate how you should have yours (not even a certain Mr Robert De Niro with his penchant for muddled cucumber and shaking the life out of the drink for as long as possible).

“Shaken Martinis are the high energy version of the cocktail,” continues Smith. “They’re lighter, cleaner, fresher, crisper and you get more dilution from the ice shards which float on top.” Palazzi agrees. “Many bartenders turn their nose up if a customer asks for a shaken Martini but really, there are no rules.”

Well, just a few. Like making sure your glassware is ice cold. Oh, and here where size really does matter: “THE larger your glass the warmer your drink will be – go for a 4-and-a-half ounce or five ounce glass instead,” advises Smith. You can always keep the extra liquid chilling on ice to top your glass up at your leisure.

Of course being from Belvedere, Smith champions a Martini with vodka as its base. But gin or even a mixture of the two white spirits aka The Vesper go down equally well. Vermouth plays a major role in the process: “We have an English vermouth made specially for us by a company called Sacred,” says Palazzi. For those of us who have to make do with off-the-shelf Smith advises experimenting to find your perfect fit. “Dolin and Lillet are personal favourites but play around. The same goes for garnishes: try orange, grapefruit, olives even lime – it’s really up to you.”

Three tips for the perfect Martini:

1. Chill your glasses: Ideally they should come straight from the freezer but chilling down with ice cubes beforehand does the job.

2. Whether your preference is for vodka, gin or both – go for quality ingredients.

3. If you’re stirring, aim for 90 seconds to two minutes; for the equivalent in shaking, go for 3-5 seconds.

Claire Smith’s Perfect Martini

6 parts Belvedere Vodka
1 part Dolin Dry Vermouth
Garnished with a lemon twist

OR

3 parts Belvedere Unfiltered Vodka
1 part Dolin Dry Vermouth
Garnished with an olive

The Cocktail Lovers Perfect Martini

3 parts Tanqueray No. TEN/No. 3/Colonel Fox gin
1 part Dolin Dry Vermouth
Lemon twist (unwaxed and ideally from Amalfi)

Written for The Independent Dish of the Day blog 2/5/2013

 

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