A Martini is typically made with a white spirit (vodka or gin, traditionally) and one or more flavourings. A dry Martini is made with gin and dry vermouth, a french Martini with Chamboard and pineapple juice, an Espresso Martini with Kahlua and coffee. What makes Martinis such fun is that there are endless variations. If you have some time with a mixologist, you can ask him to make you a Martini just for you, something new and interesting, based on what you like. It’s fun, and you get something unique.
But you don’t have the chance to get a customized cocktail very often! Christopher and I went to the Grey Goose Boulangerie Francois bread van when it was in Edinburgh and these are the drinks we had.
Warren Lee, an experienced mixologist based in London, was our barman. He gave us a brief history of Grey Goose and explained that he likes working with Grey Goose because it is an elegant vodka. Made with the same wheat used for French bread, it is a little softer than vodkas made with rye. It is a perfect vodka for carrying other flavours without getting lost itself. Grey Goose make flavoured vodka – orange, lemon and pear – as well as the original, unflavoured version. It was this that Warren used for our personalised Martinis.
Warren then asked us what flavours we liked. ‘Licorice,’ was my first response, ‘I really like licorice.’ I didn’t stop there but explained that I usually have a very dry, very dirty Martini, and that my favourite cocktail is a Negroni. Christopher admitted to liking nutty, salty and umami flavours. Warren used our flavour profiles to construct our drinks. To my endless excitement, mine started with licorice bitters. (Need to get some of those for my drinks cupboard!) Christopher’s started with olive juice. I’ve written rough recipes below.
Christopher’s special: the dirty, salty Martini
Watching Warren work was fun. The very first thing we learned was how to add a hit of olive flavour to a Martini. Often, dirty Martinis are made with the brine that the olives are in. A better way is to squeeze the olive into the cocktail shaker: this way, you extract concentrated olive juice and oil. Use a green olive with the pit still in and squeeze the flesh into the stone. One or two olives will yield enough juice to flavour one drink. The juice looks much nicer than brine: it’s a cloudy, pale green, and is less salty.
To make a really savoury Martini, you can add smoked salt, sea salt and the attractive black lava salt Warren used. Be careful – it’s easy to overdo salt. You want a savoury Martini, not a glass of alcoholic brine.
- 2 green olives
- 1 pinch of salt: sea salt, lava salt, smoked salt or a combination.
- Martini Gran Lusso
- Martini Rosso
- Cider brandy
- Sprig of rosemary
- 50 cl Grey Goose original
- Squeeze the olives.
- Muddle the rosemary with salt and ice.
- Add cider brandy and Martinis.
- Strain into a frozen glass and serve with a twist of lemon.
Caroline’s special: the grapefruit teaser Martini
Adding citrus to a cocktail isn’t about decoration. citrus peel contains fragrant oils that add scent and flavour to a cocktail. They are a lovely way to add finish and top notes to a cocktail. Peel a thin layer of peel of a fruit, old it and squeeze just enough to pop the oil cells so that they spray onto the surface of the drink. To ad a level of sophistication, wipe the edge of the glass with the peel, and slap the body of the glass with it. Oils from the peel transfers to the glass and from there to your fingers, leaving a fresh scent.
- Licorice bitters.
- Rhubarb liqueur.
- Falernum (white rum spiced with limes and cloves).
- Grapefruit juice.
- 50 cl Grey Goose original.
- Stir bitters, rhubarb liqueur and falernum.
- Add juice.
- Add vodka.
- Strain into a frozen glass and serve with a grapefruit twist.
What a Martini is depends on what you want it to be. It might take a little experimentation, or a good chat with a barman, but you can find one that fits you. Our visit to the Grey Goose boulangerie van was a lovely way to try something new and learn something about how to build a drink.