I have tried to steer clear of those cocktails that aren’t remotely related to a martini, in spite of having ‘-tini’ at the end of the name. Think appletinis. Yeah, no. However, I am making an exception for this Gin Saketini, mainly because it hasn’t got any of the ingredients (like syrups or liqueurs) that are the stuff of ‘-tinis’.
The Gin Saketini, as you’ve probably guessed, combines gin and Sake. Sake is rice wine from Japan. There are several types of sake that are differentiated according to how highly polished the rice grain is, and whether alcohol is added. I have chosen a junmai sake (14%ABV) to make my Gin Saketini.
Jinzu is a made in Scotland by Diageo (who make Tanqueray), created by bartender Dee Davies. Dee won the opportunity to create her own spirit through a global competition. She chose gin, but as a lover of all things Japanese, she wanted to use Sake as part of the gin-making process. Tanqueray Master Distiller, Tom Nicol, was on hand to lend his expertise and in the end the pair decided to blend the sake into the gin after distillation. I’ll be reviewing Jinzu at a later date, as it’s a lovely gin.
The Jinzu and junmai pair well in this martini, which is light and aromatic.
Ingredients for a Gin Saketini
70ml gin (I used Jinzu)
umeboshi (japanese pickled plum) for garnish
Place all ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 4-50 seconds. Double strain into a chilled glass and garnish.
The Alaska is another loose interpretation of a martini which swaps vermouth for yellow Chartreuse, an herbal liqueur made by monks in France.
It first appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, where there is a helpful explanation of where the name originates: “So far as can be ascertained this delectable potion is NOT the staple diet of the Esquimaux. It was probably first thought of in South Carolina – hence its name.”
David A. Embury, in his book “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks“, created a version of the Alaska called the “Nome”, which dials back the yellow Chartreuse and has some Fino sherry added. I’ve also seen recipes calling for orange bitters to be added, which is the option I’ve chosen.
Be warned, the Alaska is a delicious but not for the faint-hearted. It has a high ABV, (yellow Chartreuse is 40%) and it’s very sweet.
Created at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, The Astoria is a post-prohibition cocktail and featured in their 1931 cocktail book.
It’s a play on the reverse martini, but uses Old Tom gin. Old Tom style gins were all the rage before distilling techniques improved and sweeteners were no longer added to mask the flavour of inferior gins. They declined in popularity to such an extent that they disappeared. However, the cocktail renaissance and interest in old cocktail books (where Old Tom was used prolifically) has seen may brands reissue recipes from the archives, like Tanqueray and Hayman’s.
It isn’t always easy to swap London Dry for Old Tom gin. In general Old Tom gins add a richer dimension to older cocktails and work best in Martinez and Tom Collins’. Some brands are more versatile than others. Jensen’s is a favourite here, probably because they have relied on their botanical mix to create the sweet flavour, rather than add sugar. It makes a lovely G&T.
Look for tell-tale signs of sugar-crystallization around bottle tops, an indication of too much sugar being added to the gin.
Ingredients for The Astoria
60ml dry vermouth
30ml Old Tom gin (I used Jensen’s)
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an orange twist.
I came across several recipes when looking for martinis featuring absinthe. Two caught my eye, The Fourth Degree and the Third Degree.
Flavoured with wormwood (also found in vermouth), absinthe was at one time considered an extremely dangerous hallucinogen and several countries banned its production and sale. The cocktail revival of the 1990s lead to a resurgence in the use of absinthe, but it was still banned in several places until the mid-2000’s. It has an aniseed flavour that makes an excellent partner to gin, particularly where there is vermouth present.
The standard pre-prohibition Fourth Degree according to David Wondrich’s book Imbibe, is 60ml gin, 30ml Italian (sweet) vermouth and a dash of absinthe. Further investigation led me to a version in The Savoy Cocktail book recipe which is more of a perfect/reverse martini consisting of equal parts (30ml) sweet and dry vermouth and gin with 4 dashes of absinthe.Then I found a drier option in the same book, the Third Degree.
I decided to make both drinks from the Savoy Cocktail book to see which I preferred.
The Third Degree recipe calls for ‘Burrough’s Plymouth Gin’. As I have some Burrough’s Reserve (Beefeater’s lightly barrel-aged gin) I decided to use that. For the Fourth Degree I used Artemis Gin (which used wormwood as a botanical).
While I appreciated the balanced nature of the cocktail it was still too sweet for me and I couldn’t detect the absinthe as an ingredient as I could in the Third Degree. This was by far and away my favourite.
Ingredients for a Third Degree (Savoy recipe)
30ml dry vermouth
4 dashes of absinthe (equates to about 1 teaspoon)
The usual. Stir over ice for 40-50 seconds. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish as desired. I went without as I didn’t want to be distracted from my taste test, but would suggest lemon peel.
The Marguerite cocktail is a precursor of the dry martini. Thomas Stuart’s recipe appeared the 1904 reprint of his 1896 book Stuart’s Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them, listed under “New and Up-to-Date Drinks”, signaling a move away from sweet vermouth as Dry drinks crept into fashion.
Other bartenders use the Marguerite cocktail as a building block for their own drinks, like Harry Johnson, whose version uses anisette as well as bitters, and was garnished with a cherry.
Plymouth Gin was the gin of the time, and is the most referenced gin in the Savoy Cocktail book. I’m going to stay faithful to the original recipe, which also uses Noilly Prat as the dry vermouth.
Ingredients for the Marguerite Cocktail
60ml Plymouth Gin
30ml Noilly Prat dry vermouth
2 dashes of orange bitters (I used Fee Brothers West Indian Orange bitters)
orange peel for garnish
The Savoy Cocktail book asks for this drink to be shaken, but you all know my preference for stirring my martinis, so I’m going to stick with doing that.
Add all ingredients to an ice-filled mixing glass and stir for 40-50 seconds. Double-strain into a chilled glass and garnish with the orange peel.
I look to Sipsmith regularly for inspiration on how to drink gin and it was there that I found the recipe for the Millionaire’s Martini which was one of the drinks featured in their 100 Martini Pop-Up Bars in London and Amsterdam. Sipsmith Master Distiller Jared Brown has encyclopedic knowledge of not just gin, but also martinis, and his book Shaken not Stirred has been an education throughout ’30 Martinis in 30 Days’.
I’m not much of a champagne drinker, but I do make an exception when it’s mixed with gin. The French 75 is one gin and champagne drink I adore, and now the Millionaire’s martini is going to be another!
Ingredients for the Millionaire’s Martini
40ml Sipsmith gin
40ml dry vermouth
Stir the gin and vermouth together in an ice-filled mixing glass (40-50 seconds). Double-strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top up with champagne.
The Sloe Gin Martini is another Harry Craddock creation from his 1930 manual The Savoy Cocktail Book.
Sloe gin is an old English style gin made by putting the berries of the blackthorn bush into gin and leaving it to steep. The sloe berry looks like a blueberry, but tastes like a sour plum. The skins are very tannic so sugar is added to balance the flavour of the sloe gin making it technically a liqueur.
Producers vary the time they allow the sloe berries to infuse the gin. I’ve tasted sloe gins that are steeped from 3 to 12 months, with differing results. The longer the infusion the higher the ABV. I prefer my sloe gin on the dry side and find some brands on the market too sickly sweet for my palate. A tell-tale sign of overdoing the sugar is crystallization around the lid.
I’ve used McHenry Sloe Gin from Tasmania for this Sloe Gin martini. While sloes are native to England, settlers brought blackthorn plants to Tasmania. Foraging for sloes with William McHenry was one of the highlights of last year.
William leaves the berries to infuse in his Classic Dry gin for 12 months. As a result some of the flavour from the stone of the fruit is retained which gives a hint of almonds on finish. He doesn’t add a lot sugar and the overall result is drier than many brands. It’s my stand out sloe gin.
Harry Craddock’s recipe calls for sweet and dry vermouth to be used and I’ve used Maidenii for the full Australian experience.
Ingredients for a Sloe Gin Martini
40ml McHenry Sloe Gin
20ml Maidenii dry vemrouth
20ml Maidenii sweet vermouth
Stir over ice for 30-40 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The Fifty-Fifty appears in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail book from 1930. As the name suggests the martini is made with 50% gin and 50% dry vermouth and the recipe calls for it to be shaken, but rule breaker that I am I stirred mine!
If you’ve been following the whole 30 Martinis in 30 days series, you’ll know the higher the proportion of vermouth gives a ‘wetter’ martini. As the cocktail culture has evolved over the last 20 or so years and the martini has come back into fashion, vermouth has garnered more attention and quite right too. It’s an unsung hero of the bar and a worthy drink in its own right. The Fifty-Fifty allows the flavour of a good vermouth to shine, with the obvious benefit it that is less boozy!
It can take a while to come up with your favourite gin and vermouth combination for a Fifty-Fifty, but I am going to follow one the of the best bartenders on the planet, Audrey Saunders (The Libation Goddess) who owns the Pegu Club in New York and has been a stalwart of the US bar industry for many years. If she doesn’t know the best gin and vermouth pairing, then who does? Her recipe calls for Plymouth gin and Dolin vermouth. What relief!
Ingredients for a Fifty-Fifty
45ml Plymouth gin
45ml Dolin vermouth
Shake well in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an olive if desired!
The Boomerang martini was popular in the 30’s and 40’s. It’s similar to a Perfect martini in that it uses both dry (French) and sweet (Italian) vermouth, but in ratio closer to the Reverse! Confused? Perhaps this is why it’s called a Boomerang.
While I’ve been sifting through old recipes for 30 Martinis in 30 Days , I’ve come to understand that the dry martini is a relatively recent phenomenon and that the older the recipe, the more sweet vermouth was used and feature a maraschino cherry as a garnish. I have a new appreciation for vermouth, and particularly like the flavour that comes from using sweet and dry varieties together.
Spring Forward is a martini created by Sasha Patraske, probably the most influential bartender of the modern cocktail era. Sasha’s personal style and ethos on making drinks heralded the popularity of the ‘speakeasy’ style bar.
Several alumni of Sasha’s bar ‘Milk and Honey’ have gone on to open their own award-winning bars and their stories feature in Sasha’s book, written with his wife Georgette and sadly published posthumously this year.
I highly recommend buying Regarding Cocktails if you haven’t already done so. It is full of wonderful drinks; some of Sasha’s creations and some from his bar team as well as the classics. I adore the simplistic illustrations (which have their own legend) as well as insights into Sasha’s way of doing things.
“If you’re serious about making cocktails at home, the first thing you have to do is take all the food out of your freezer and throw it away. It’ll add unwanted flavor to the ice, and you weren’t going to eat it anyway”.
Spring Forward is a glorious riff on a dry martini and a gibson. However, the muddling of the spring onion makes the drink brighter and fresher somehow.
Ingredients for Spring Forward
60ml dry gin
30ml dry vermouth
2 spring onions (one for muddling/one for garnish)
Add the gin, vermouth and one of the spring onions to a frozen mixing glass. Gently muddle the spring onion. Sasha warns against over-muddling as this will lead to bitter flavors. Add ice and stir until chilled. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the remaining spring onion.