At some point in the last decade, you may have noticed, cocktails became very complicated.
So, by the standards of which cocktails are slung today, the martini represents a refreshingly uncomplicated choice.
Everybody knows it’s a gentleman’s drink. We are not, of course, speaking of “tinis” — apple or otherwise — but rather, a simple cocktail with somewhere between a 2-12:1 ratio of gin or vodka to dry vermouth (the higher the ratio, the “drier” the martini), that’s shaken or stirred then garnished, preferably with a lemon. Olives if you’re the devil — or Hemingway (pictured above).
But don’t let the simplicity of this drink fool you, nor deter you from ordering it as your pre-dinner drink from hereon. It is the ultimate aperitif, and will forever be this correspondent’s first horn.
Let us first consider the poorly designed martini glass. Easily breakable. Wide-mouthed and awkward to hold. Does nothing to protect its user from spillage. By design, the martini is meant to be enjoyed at a slow pace, preferably with the drinker collected in one place with minimal hand-gesturing. Said scenario is called dinner.
(And, as one of our correspondent’s mother likes to say, “the glass is shaped like that so you know when you’ve had too many.”)
Most importantly, the juice from, say, a double gin martini, is all the body needs to build an appetite. The flavor profile is clear, delicate and unobtrusive; it loosens the tongue while sharpening the taste buds. Compare with the Old Fashioned: delightful though it may be, a palate-domineering medley best reserved for the latter half of the meal.
What you want is a palate-cleanser, and that is the martini. Order up.