Vermouth, the whole truth and nothing but Vermouth

I’m enjoying a bit of holiday reading, Frank Moorhouse’s memoir – Martini.
I’m realising how little I actually know about this most impressive of alcoholic bevvies.

For instance: What are the correct proportions of gin to vermouth? And let’s not even get started on the pros and cons of bastardised versions, what Moorhouse calls the “Crazy Drinks”; chocolate martinis and the like***

Getting back to the vermouth question: How much is too much?
There are those who believe a martini is basically gin with a threat of vermouth. In my opinion they might as well drink their gin neat. I’ve always been one for a generous splash of vermouth and I agree with Moorhouse that it’s purpose is to smooth out, or ‘sweeten’ the drink.

I also agree that a martini made with sweet vermouth is a travesty, though some people like them that way.

Moorhouse says his preferred mix, and the domestic version of the martini he makes himself, is 5-1 (gin-vermouth). This seems about right to me, though I sometimes make them at three-one. And I have, on occasion, told barkeeps to make sure they don’t pour the vermouth off before adding the gin to the shaker.

Partly this is the Yorkshireman in me; I’ve paid for a martini and it has vermouth in it; don’t pour my vermouth down the sink! But also it’s about the mix, the taste, the impact etc. A martini is a blend and I want to taste the blend. If I want neat gin, I’ll ask for it.

Here’s a recipe for those who like their martini mostly gin, with very little vermouth. I’ll try this in the next couple of days and let you know what I think.

The Montgomery Martini
According to Moorhouse this is named after the British general, Montgomery, at least as mentioned in Ernest Hemingway’s novel Across the river and into the trees. It is so-called because Monty was famous for never attacking without overwhelming numbers.

15:1 (gin-vermouth).

Hmmmm.

As Moorhouse writes: “My secret agenda in this book is to bring back the vermouth to the martini.”
I’ll drink to that!

*** I am actually partial to the fruity, choclately martini. I have previously mentioned the Musket Room in Ponsonby Road (Auckland); they have excellent Crazy Drink martini derivatives.

One Response to Vermouth, the whole truth and nothing but Vermouth

  1. […] Mexican sounds like a crazy drink to me and who but an American would add 7Up or Sprite to a bloody cocktail. As we know from […]

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