The martini is one of the simplest of drinks — smooth, dry, lightly perfumed (depending on which gin you prefer) — and it is a classic aperitif. The martini bespeaks an air of sophistication; it is an acquired taste that can be altered to suit the individual. It may be the classic cocktail.
However, the martini also seems to give a drinker a chance to boast of his or her individuality. Some say that one should merely introduce the bottle of vermouth to the gin, very politely of course: "Mr. Gin, allow me to introduce Mr. Vermouth. Don't shake hands now; you will never mix." Showman bartenders will keep the vermouth in an atomizer and merely spray the glass lightly before adding chilled gin. Others will keep their olives soaking in the vermouth, negating the need for any extra in the mixing glass. James Bond preferred his martini shaken, not stirred, but that can "bruise" the gin. Bruise the gin? I imagine that one can bruise an olive, but, personally, I don't believe that gin can be bruised. There seems to be no end of special treatments required for some people's martinis. They'll easily choose between straight up or on the rocks, and generally the choice between a twist and an olive won't challenge them too much. But then the peculiarities begin: They'll want the martini straight up with a glass of ice cubes on the side, two olives put in the glass before the drink is poured in, or the twist must be rubbed around the rim of the glass, waved twice over the top, and then thrown away. No request is too bizarre.
Of course, these days, you can make a martini with any white liquor at all — rum, tequila, gin, or vodka. The martini offers true freedom of choice: It might just be the very symbol of America. Put three cocktail onions into the drink, instead of the olive or twist, and it becomes a Gibson. Use a dash ofScotch instead of the vermouth, and you have a Silver Bullet. Use sake, and you have a Sakétini, and, of course, if you make a martini with Scotch instead of gin and sweet vermouth instead of dry, the drink becomes a Rob Roy.
Variations on the Martini include the Fino Martini (page 61), Rum Martini (page 114), Sakétini (page 79), Silver Bullet (page 79), Tequila Martini (page 153), Vodka Martini (page 178), Rob Roy (page 133), and the Gibson (page 62).
2 1/2 ounces gin
1 teaspoon dry vermouth 1 lemon twist or
1 cocktail olive
In a mixing glass half-filled with ice cubes, combine the gin and vermouth. Stir well. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with the lemon twist or the olive.