A few droplets of brine or a garnished olive make the martini dirty, and these additives can also extend to a dash of bitters, cocktail onions, capers, or syrup, all of which are entirely up to preference. The martini family now includes vodka as a base spirit as well as the spirited double whammy of Fleming.
In my days as a hapless mixologist, a glorified bartender with a bit of flair, it was drilled into me that you should stir a spirit-only cocktail — a martini with ice shards is a crime. Yet, nothing is more satisfying than getting your hands frozen on the shaker in mere seconds. To follow the status-quo, a mixing glass loaded with ice and a fine strained is much easier, albeit lacking theatrics.
On this fatal last day of the weekend we went with Absolut vodka, Martini Blanc and Gordon’s — we may not have ‘got it’ to his specifications, but the day was about forgetting the week and hopefully not encountering any double agents. My uncle armed with the 007 watch, my aunt worrying about failing my mother in parental duties, and me just glad that I have a hall pass to drink in the day, you only live twice — got into it. Bottles were lined up, mixing glasses, coupes and shakers were dusted off and jars were pried open.
The gin’s botanicals are subdued by the vodka while the vermouth adds a bittersweet edge and shaking increases the dilution of the drink — which is preferable when drinking three alcohols with your aunt and uncle. Drinking and making cocktails should be a social and experimental process allowing for drunk discourse, reinventing recipes and finding a drink that you enjoy. While I was a bartender and thought mixology was quite a serious art, budgeting and accessibility has proved to me that drinking is as flexible as it is enjoyable; so use the resources you have and enjoy the process and this bare-bones cocktail imbued with bootlegging, Bond and British Bulldogs.
Once again, you’re making your own cocktail, so fiddle around until you find something that works for you — remember that James Bond now drinks Heineken.
THE VESPER MARTINI