Shaken, Not Stirred… and with a Strawberry, Please
Nov 12 2015
Martini is a drink preserved in culture through film. Mention Martini to people nowadays and they will probably think of ‘Shaken, not stirred’, a line associated with James Bond in the films of Ian Fleming’s novels. But much earlier, Mae West is credited with a mention of Martini in the film ‘Every Day’s a Holiday’ in 1937 — with a line about getting out of wet clothes and into a dry Martini.
Even before Bond, mixing a Martini by shaking it not stirring was used in ‘The Thin Man’, an Oscar winning film from 1934. And the arguments about what makes a great Martini rage on still. Should you shake or stir? Should an olive be added and what makes a Martini dry? Let’s look at Martini and how they should be made and see if chromatography can add to the mix of a perfect Martini.
Martini — dry or wet?
The concept of the Martini cocktail is believed to have originated in the 1870s in Martinez, California. It is probably the most famous gin based cocktail. There are many different varieties of Martini but the basic ingredients of a good Martini are:
- Lemon zest
A Martini is described as dry or wet depending on the amount of vermouth it contains. A dry Martini contains less vermouth than a standard Martini — with Mae West probably referring to a mix containing 6 parts gin to 1 part vermouth. But there is much more to a good Martini and even chromatography can help.
Olive, salt or strawberry
The classic way to serve a Martini is with an olive — but olives have a relatively strong flavour and might hide some of the delicate flavours and aromas from the gin. The best gin is flavoured using botanicals— natural flavour compounds of plants — during the distillation process and gin is flavoured with up to 10 botanicals.
By analysing the flavour compounds of an individual gin —the botanicals — it is possible to select which flavour will go best with each gin, rather than just adding an olive that might mask those flavours. And this is where gas chromatography comes in — as an ideal method of analysing flavours as discussed in the article, A Matter of Taste....Flavour Profiling by GCxGC-qMS/FID.
Another trick to increasing flavour in your Martini is to add a little salt — only a small amount is necessary. Salt can help release more of the natural flavourings in the gin by altering the surface tension of the liquid allowing more vapour to escape. The majority of our flavour experience comes via our olfactory nerves — our sense of smell.
Shaken or stirred
Although Mr Bond likes his Martini shaken, plenty of bartenders would argue that stirring makes a better drink. The aim is to mix and chill the liquids — and stirring gives the bartender greater control on the dilution of the drink as the ice melts.
Image by THOR
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