What Is And What Is Not A Martini

Let’s kick this off properly with a drink that divides opinion. The Martini.

A wise woman once wrote that a martini is made with gin, a vodka martini is made with vodka, and an apple martini is an abomination. I know this because I’m married to her. And I agree.

Which is probably just as well.

But let’s go further.

The famous “martini” at Duke’s is not a martini. It is a large glass of cold gin. A martini is a mixed drink. It requires dry vermouth. Now, I don’t care if you add the vermouth with an atomiser, but it must be there.

A martini should be small. It should be very, very cold. And the balance of its dilution over the ice must be tight-rope perfect. Which is why the martini should ideally be stirred. As President Bartlett once said of James Bond’s shaken specimens, “He’s ordering a weak martini and being snooty about it.”

And, to go a little further still, a martini is made of two ingredients, chilled over ice, served “up”, and garnished. Just because your drink is served in a martini (or cocktail) glass, it doesn’t mean it’s a fucking martini. All your lychee martinis, espresso martinis, marmalade martinis and (oh kill me now)_ pornstar martinis… they are not martinis. Why? Because a martini is made with gin and a vodka martini is made with vodka.

All these other drinks may be perfectly enjoyable, though many are not, but they’re just scrabbling for attention on the noble martini’s coat tails. And their names display both a paucity of imagination on the part of their inventors, and a cynical piece of marketing.

To put it another way, the Cosmopolitan is not a cranberry martini.

So you can take your “martini lists”, and shove ’em.

3 thoughts on “What Is And What Is Not A Martini”

  1. The only problem with this, is going into a West End bar and only asking for a “Pornstar” is likely to get you arrested – or worse – introduced to one.

    We need a new suffix for these abominations that accurately reflects that it’s not a “proper cocktail” and not a Martini…

    1. A bit like going into a bar in the early 90s and ordering an “orgasm”, which has the benefits of being both tackily named and repugnant all at once!

      That being said, I’m proposing we rename the espresso martini the “coffee wobbler”. I wonder if it’ll catch on!!

  2. Over the past few years I’ve spent a lot of time in what used to be called East Germany. When ordering a martini there one receives a chilled glass of vermouth. Interesting, but not what my taste buds were expecting. To get a proper martini requires ordering a James Bond. Back home in the US of A, ordering a martini is questioned with “what type of vodka?”. A real shame.

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