There are few things in this world that are resolutely trend-proof, timeless and always in style. An ice-cold martini is one of them.
“A martini is truly the most iconic cocktail in history,” says Francesco Lafranconi, Executive Director of Mixology and Spirits Educator for Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada. “The drink itself is a symbol of belonging to a particular, classic lifestyle.”
That lifestyle is an enviable one, if the drink’s early adopters are any indication. Ernest Hemingway enjoyed the cocktail; Marlene Dietrich, Humphrey Bogart and, of course, James Bond, were among the martini’s first ambassadors. Over time, the recipe evolved and today’s martini—made with vodka or gin and a small amount of dry vermouth—was cemented into the cocktail canon.
“With so few ingredients, the quality of each is important,” insists Lafranconi. In other words, you should make a martini with a spirit you like the flavor of, since the famous cocktail has nothing to hide behind. Vodka, once prized for its chameleon qualities, is now being distilled in such a way that its intrinsic flavors are showcased. Says Lafranconi, “You’re seeing vodkas, like elit™ by Stolichnaya® that are made with superior grains, the purest water and the most sophisticated distillation methods, and you can taste the difference.”
As you’d expect from an expert who has made drinks around the world, Lafranconi has his opinions. “When you’re making a martini with such a high-quality vodka, you want to add just enough vermouth to complement the spirit but not compromise its texture. The vermouth is like a lover hiding in the closet—you think it’s there, but you don’t see it.”