It’s hard to think of a pre-dinner drink more respected and sublime than the Dry Martini. Elegant, bracing, strong and refined, it’s the perfect opening to a steak dinner or other hearty meal, as well as a lovely way to end an evening. But how can you add further depth, richness and boozy sophistication to the classic cocktail?
The answer comes from bartending legend Dale DeGroff: The educator, author and historian replaces the vermouth in the classic drink with a blended scotch whisky in his Smoky Martini. In sparing quantities, the spirit’s smoky and savory notes dance beautifully with gin’s botanicals.
In fact, this cocktail has a serious literary pedigree. In Norman Mailer’s 1991 novel Harlot’s Ghost, a character based on real-life CIA agent William King Harvey, who ran the Agency’s West Berlin operations in the 1950s, mixes a Martini by rinsing the ice in a shaker with Scotch before adding the gin. Bartenders at the time, according to DeGroff, picked up on the recipe and started referring to it as the Berlin Station Chief.
“I am not sure whether Mailer’s research is so good that he would have wanted a drink that the character would have actually been drinking in 1956,” says DeGroff, “but I was serving Smoky Martinis in the 1970s.”
We can’t be certain whether it was a Cold War spy, a legendary author, or a clever bartender who first put scotch in a Martini. But whomever it was, we’re raising a glass to you.
Click Play to See This Smoky Martini Come Together
2 1/2 ounces London dry gin
1/4 ounce blended scotch whisky
Garnish: lemon twist
Add the gin and scotch into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a Martini glass.
Garnish with a lemon twist.