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Tag: Martini

20 pro tips to make bar-quality cocktails at home

Curious about how the professionals make cocktails at home? Wonder no longer. From pre-freezing glassware to emulsifying egg drinks, here’s 20 expert-backed tips, tricks and hacks you can adopt to…

Curious about how the professionals make cocktails at home? Wonder no longer. From pre-freezing glassware to emulsifying egg drinks, here’s 20 expert-backed tips, tricks and hacks you can adopt to make bar-standard drinks in your kitchen…

No matter how well-versed you are at knocking up an Old Fashioned or a Daiquiri from the comfort of your own home, nothing quite beats the finesse of a bar-side serve. The question is: why?

Turns out, there’s more to making a cracking cocktail than just combining measured liquids in the correct order. But you don’t need loads of fancy kit and obscure ingredients to achieve them – all you need is a little know-how. We asked bartenders, brand ambassadors, and other knowledgeable drinks industry folks to share their hacks for making the best possible cocktails at home. Here’s what they had to say…

You’ll need ice, lots and lots of ice

Ice

Use more than you think you need

“There is one rule that I always stick to when making cocktails at home: Use good ice, and a lot of it,” says Renaud de Bosredon, Bombay Sapphire UK brand ambassador. “Using just two ice cubes in a Gin & Tonic or to stir a Martini will only add water and won’t cool the drink down properly. Don’t hold back. The more ice, the better!”

Filter before you fill up

“Ice is often overlooked as an ingredient, but in certain cocktails it can add up to 50% of dilution, so you want to be using the best quality ice possible,” says No. 3 Gin brand ambassador Ross Bryant. “Water quality is different all over the country, so anyone making ice in a hard water area should filter their water first before freezing.” 

Freeze your own large format ice 

“You can do this by filling a take-away container full of ice and leaving it to freeze, use a serrated knife to then cut it into nice big blocks,” says Dan Garnell, head bartender at Super Lyan, Amsterdam. “This will help keep the drink cold but won’t add too much dilution.” 

Know the difference between ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ ice

“If your ice is ‘wet’ – i.e. wet on every side, it has been out of the freezer for a while – it will dilute your drink quicker,” says Bryant, “whereas ice cubes taken straight from the freezer are ‘dry’ and will dilute your drink slightly slower.”

Manhattan Duke

Manhattan: 2 parts rye, 1 part vermouth, dash of bitters

Methodology

Resize drinks via ‘parts’

“Try transforming measurements in parts instead of ml or ounces,” says Andrei Talapanescu, head bartender at Pulitzer’s Bar in Amsterdam. “For example, a Manhattan will work with 2 parts base spirit, 1 part modifier and a couple dashes of bitters. Instead of 50ml/25ml or 60ml/30ml, there’s less to remember, and it’s easier to adjust according to the available glassware.” 

Introduce new flavours slowly

“You can always add more, but you can’t remove,” says Osvaldo Romito, bartender at the Megaro Hotel in London. “If you’re not sure, just start with a little bit and add more as you go.”

Look to physical cues

“Shake or stir until the temperature has reached an equilibrium,” says Talapanescu, “until you see condensation on the stirring glass or frost on the stainless steel shaker.”

Dry shake egg-based drinks

“When making drinks that contain egg, you must first ‘emulsify’ the egg,” says Bryant. “To do this, you must first shake all your ingredients without ice. Once shaken, open your shaker and add ice in order to chill and dilute your drink.”

Ask yourself, is that garnish really essential?

Garnish

Identify the essentials

“Garnishes can be divided into two: aromatic enhancers and aesthetic enhancers,” says Andrei Talapanescu, head bartender at Pulitzer’s Bar in Amsterdam. “Do not omit the aromatic ones such as citrus zest, mint, or a spray. The rest can be left out.”

Dehydrate wheels of fruit… 

“These are so easy,” says Karol Terejlis, bars manager at Baltic and Ognisko, both in London.  “Put your oven on 70 degrees celsius and dry slices of orange, mandarins, tangerines, lemons and limes for around 8 to 10 hours. I also dry out strawberries and raspberries for the same time, then blend them to make a powder. Good for garnishes with a strong colour!”

…Or alternatively, freeze them

“Pre-freeze fruit slices,” suggests Metinee Kongsrivilai, Bacardi rum UK brand ambassador. “This will help reduce food waste as it preserves the fruit, but it’s also great for chilling your drinks and it adds to the drink’s presentation. This would be most effective with perfectly diluted drinks.”

Utilise kitchen kit

“Potato peelers will cut you great citrus peel twists,” says David Eden-Sangwell, brand ambassador at Old J Rum. “The Y-shaped peelers are the best for this and will leave most of the bitter pith behind.”

Terri Brotherston in action

Prep

Chill the glass

“Making drinks without ice?,” says Eden-Sangwell. “Chill the glass with ice and water while you mix the drink and empty just before pouring the drink in. This will keep your drink cold for longer.” Alternatively, pop your glass in the freezer for a couple of minutes.

Pre-batch your ingredients

“If you are making multiple drinks, prepare in advance,” says Terri Brotherston, whisky specialist at Edrington-Beam Suntory UK. “You can make a small batch of sugar syrup in advance and store it in the fridge. You can juice two or three lemons or limes beforehand and keep it in a jug. It means your ingredients are already to hand and will make it a much smoother, more enjoyable process.”

Keep bottles in the freezer

“If you’re more of a stirred-down, spirit-forward – dry vodka Martini, for example – kind of person, whack that pre-diluted spirit in the freezer,” says Nicole Sykes, bartender at Satan’s Whiskers in London and Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Competition 2020 UK Winner. “That way you’ll get consistently ice cold Martinis with a great texture, straight from the bottle and you don’t have to panic if you don’t have any ice. Pour straight into a pre-frozen glass.”

Blend your cocktail

“Utilise that blender,” says Sykes. “For really quick, consistent and cold drinks, stick your favourite cocktails into a blender, add 10ml more sugar syrup – which you can also make in your blender using equal parts caster sugar and water by weight – and blend with supermarket ice to make a slush!”

Pre-batch your cocktails

“I’ve got bottles of pre-batched drinks ready to go,” says Bartender Paul Mathew, owner of Bermondsey bar The Hide and founder of Everleaf, “including a Negroni, a Last Word (just add lime and shake), and a Diplomat (my wife’s favourite) – plus plenty of Everleaf for non-drinking evenings and aperitifs.”

The Nightcap

Sometimes, the best tip is just to keep it simple

Creativity 

Create your own cordials

“Experiment with home cordials,” suggests Garnell. “For instance, after doing fresh orange juice in the morning, boil the husks in a mixture of water, orange juice and spices such as clove, cinnamon or nutmeg. Leave it to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes and strain – you have your own spiced orange cordial!”

Try a milk wash

“Add one part spirit to a bowl and one quarter of its volume in lemon juice,” says Adam Rog, senior bartender at The Four Sisters bar in Islington. “Pour your spirit and lemon mixture into milk and watch it curdle. Once split, usually after 10 minutes, run it through a filter – try a microfibre cloth or some kitchen towel, as you’ll want it to catch the curds but keep the lactose. After this, you can add whatever flavours you think best. We milk wash coffee liqueur and add vodka, sugar, vanilla essence and cacao to create a smoother take on a White Russian.”

Or, just keep it simple

“One of my favourite cocktails to make at home is a Negroni,” says Ben Flux, bartender at Merchant House in London. “It’s simple, but a bartender’s favourite! Add a sustainable twist with Discarded Cascara Vermouth and spent coffee grounds to create a cold brew Negroni.”

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 Introducing Martini’s alcohol-free aperitivo

Indulging in your typical Italian aperitivo hour is usually a lowish ABV affair – placing the Negroni firmly to one side – but it’s almost impossible to enjoy the drinking…

Indulging in your typical Italian aperitivo hour is usually a lowish ABV affair – placing the Negroni firmly to one side – but it’s almost impossible to enjoy the drinking occasion totally sans-booze. Until now, that is. Martini has just launched a duo of delectable non-alcoholic aperitivo, made with wines used in its classic vermouths. We take a look at the range…

Beloved by our Italian neighbours, aperitivo is that golden period – generally between 7pm and 9pm – to unwind from the day’s events over a glass of something satisfying and a few choice nibbles. Traditionally that glass has been filled with something boozy, be it a sparkling Sbagliato or an Aperol Spritz. When you’re taking a break from alcohol, be it for one night or one month, there aren’t many sundowner options. 

“In the past, deciding not to drink alcohol meant a fizzy water while everyone else enjoyed cocktails; or staying at home on a Friday while your friends go out and enjoy aperitivo time,” Nick Stringer, global vice president of Martini, explained in a press release. “But times are changing, and consumers don’t want to feel like they are missing out when they are being more mindful about their drinking.”

Try it on its own. . .

Too true. To remedy this terrible dilemma, Italian spirits behemoth Martini has very kindly released a two-strong range called Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo, which are made using the same white wines as its classic vermouths. Drawing on hundreds of years of distilling know-how, master herbalist Ivano Tonutti and master blender Beppe Musso remove the alcohol from the wine using vacuum distillation before infusing the resulting liquid with a special selection of botanicals.

“We always use a mix of botanicals – we’re never using one single botanical, because we’re really going for the complexity,” says global brand ambassador Roberta Mariani. “Artemesia is the main botanical for the production of vermouth, and it’s really the signature of Martini. Any of our products, from our bitters, to our amaros to vermouth, they all contain artemisia.”

Martini’s new fruity Vibrante variant is centred on Italian bergamot, while Floreale focuses on Roman chamomile to give a floral profile (as the name indeed suggests). Like with its regular alcoholic aperitivo range, the historic producer uses a variety of techniques to extract flavour from the botanicals. As Mariani explains, each part of the plant benefits from slightly different treatment. 

“You’ve got flowers, you’ve got leaves, seeds, barks, roots – so each item needs a different method to extract the flavours, such as infusion, maceration or distillation,” she says. “Usually there are three: one is a bitter extract, one is herbal, and one is a distillate.” Typically, herbal and bitter extracts deliver body and mouthfeel, while the distillate dictates the nose. “Most of the aroma comes from the distillate,” she continues. “Oranges, raspberries… Anything that has a big perfume is usually distilled.”

MARTINI NON-ALCOHOLIC VIBRANTE AND TONIC WINTER (WITH BOTTLE)

Or even better, with pizza

Removing alcohol from the equation was a pretty big challenge, Mariani admits. While a touch of sugar certainly goes some way towards carrying the flavours found in any vermouth, booze brings a certain texture and mouthfeel that’s especially hard to replicate in such a complex product. This is where the extra botanicals really came into their own. “It took a little bit of time to balance the aperitivo without alcohol, because it usually plays a big part in the production,” she says. Time well spent, we say.

You’re probably wondering how to drink the fruits of their labour. The essence of aperitivo boils down to creating a refreshingly simple serve – less time pouring over recipes, more time snacking on nocellara olives, amiright? – and the Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo range very much fits in with that philosophy. 

If long drinks are your bag, Martini suggests combining 75ml of Vibrante or Floreale with 75ml tonic over a generous serving of ice in a balloon glass before garnishing with an orange wheel. Alternatively, simply pour 75ml Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo over ice and sip slowly to appreciate the depth and complexity. 

If you’re a whizz behind the back bar, you could even pair a Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo bottling with any one of the many alcohol-free gins on the market and – can you see where we’re going with this? – attempt your own weeknight-safe Negroni with a touch of Martini Bitter (which comes in at a reasonable 25% ABV). Close your eyes, whack some Arancini in the oven and pretend you’re sipping cocktails in a vineyard as the sun sets over Sicily. Bellissimo!

Martini Non-Alcoholic Aperitivo will be coming soon to Master of Malt.

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Cocktail of the Week: The French Martini

Today we’re rolling up the sleeves of our suit jacket à la Hall & Oates to make a cocktail that’s not particularly French and not really a Martini. It’s the…

Today we’re rolling up the sleeves of our suit jacket à la Hall & Oates to make a cocktail that’s not particularly French and not really a Martini. It’s the French Martini!

Often the word French is appended to things to make them seem more sophisticated or sexy than they really are. French fries are actually Belgian, French kisses were invented in Dunstable (fact!) and have you ever seen French toast (or eggy bread as we used to call it when I was growing up) in France? Which brings us on to this week’s cocktail, the French Martini. It is, like most cocktails, an American creation. It was invented or at least popularised in New York City by a man with possibly the least French name ever, Keith McNally.

Could it be any more ’90s?

McNally was a big noise in ‘80s and ‘90s New York (and still is). Such a big noise that The New York Times described him as: “The Restaurateur Who Invented Downtown.” Just as the French Martini isn’t very French, McNally isn’t American. He was born and raised in Bethnal Green. After a stint as a child actor in London, McNally came to New York in 1975 and opened a series of French-inspired restaurants such as Pastis, Cherche Midi and Augustine. His most famous venue, however, was Balthazar which became the hippest joint in town when it opened in 1997 and the French Martini was the trademark cocktail. It quickly crossed the Atlantic and found a home among the Cool Britannia crowd at the Met Bar in London. Balthazar itself arrived in 2013 with a branch in Covent Garden.

You don’t get more 90s than the French Martini, or rather, could it be any more ‘90s? It’s not only made with vodka but pineapple juice too. It’s part of the wave of so-called Martinis that were all the range back then like the Pineapple Martini, the Appletini, the Espresso Martini etc. etc. The French part comes from the addition of Chambord, a French raspberry liqueur with packaging so elaborate that it looks like a medieval incense burner, or, for Monty Python fans, the holy hand grenade of Antioch.

It’s a smoky French Martini (sung to the tune of Funky Cold Medina by Tone Loc)

How to make a French Martini

A squeeze of lemon helps temper the sweetness but still it might be a bit sugary for some so this week we’re using a fiery peaty whisky instead of vodka, Laphroaig 10 Year Old. According to Simon Difford, this variation is actually known as a Le Frog. See what they did there? Vodka or whisky, however you make it, make sure you’re dressed appropriately. We’re thinking baggy grey Armani suit like Richard Gere in his prime, and don’t be afraid to roll the sleeves up a little. Nice. Right, that’s enough preamble. Let’s make a smoky French Martini:

25ml Laphroaig 10 Year Old
25ml Chambord
10ml pineapple juice
A squeeze of lemon juice

Pour all of the ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake hard for eight seconds. Strain into a chilled coupette, garnish with a blackberry or raspberry and serve.

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Cocktail of the Week: The Tuxedo

Today we’re making the best-dressed cocktail in town: it’s a variation on the Martini made with gin and a brand of fino with a mission to make “sherry cool again”. …

Today we’re making the best-dressed cocktail in town: it’s a variation on the Martini made with gin and a brand of fino with a mission to make “sherry cool again”. 

There’s more than one way to make a Tuxedo. The cocktail is named after the Tuxedo Club, a swanky country club in upstate New York. And yes, it’s where the Americans get their name for the dinner jacket. What a place! The eponymous cocktail is a variation on the Martini. Flicking through the extensive MoM drinks book library, many recipes call for the addition of maraschino liqueur, absinthe or both. There’s not a sherry bottle in sight.

But in Old Waldorf Bar Days by Albert Stevens Crockett from 1931, there’s something quite different, made with two parts gin to one part dry sherry with a dash of orange bitters. Which is what we’re going to make today. Using sherry instead of vermouth in a Martini isn’t so unusual. Bernard de Voto in his book The Hour describes similar cocktails: “These drinks are not Martinis, they are only understudies but they damn no souls.” 

Equipo Xeco (from left, PAF, BGE and AK)

At MoM, we’ve all over sherry in cocktails, so we’re going for the Waldorf take on the Tux. But which sherry to use? It has to be a fino, and we’re rather taken with a newish brand called Xeco. It was launched in 2017 by three magnificently-monickered ladies, Beanie Geraedts-Espey, Polly Aylwin-Foster and Alexa Keymer. The three met in 2013 in Hong Kong and bonded over a shared love of Andalucia’s finest. All had studied sherry for WSET and Geraedts-Espey’s first job was doing marketing for Gonzalez-Byass. So, they knew their stuff.

They set about trying to convert their friends but encountered a number of obstacles, not least sherry’s vicars and aunts image. So began what they call project “let’s make sherry cool again” which became Xeco. The word is derived from Secco, meaning dry, and it’s pronounced something like Zecco. There are currently two wines in the range both bone dry: a fino with the emphasis on the fruit, and a rich nutty amontillado. They don’t make their own wines and instead source them from Bodega Diez Merito in Jerez.

The first thing you notice about Xeco is that the bottles don’t look like traditional sherry bottles. The shape is more like something that might hold a trendy new vodka and there are no pictures of alluring gyspy ladies on the labels as with some traditional brands. Instead, they have playful designs inspired by Anglo-Spanish history. The fino features Alfonso X of Spain and Henry III of England who concluded a treaty where the English got sherry and the Spanish wool. We know which we’d prefer. 

El Tuxedo!

Both Xecos are excellent drunk in the traditional manner, cold out of a copita, but the website is full of more different ways to serve these most versatile of wines. Which brings us back to the Tuxedo. As a fino is much drier than even a French dry vermouth, with almost zero grams of sugar, you need to use more to temper the gin. To compliment the fruitiness of the fino we’re using Foxhole Gin made with leftover grapes from making English wine. The bitters are optional, but we think one dash really brings out the citrus notes in the sherry.

Right, on with the old DJ, and let’s get stirring:

Ingredients:

50ml Foxhole London Dry Gin
25ml Xeco Fino
1 dash Fee Brothers Orange Bitters (optional)

Add all the ingredients to an ice-filled shaker, stir well and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a strip of lemon peel, or an olive stuffed with an almond. 

 

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How to make alcohol-free classic cocktails

The classics may historically call for booze in those recipes of old, but there are ways to make your favourite timeless tipple sans-spirit. Here, MoM chats with three drinks experts…

The classics may historically call for booze in those recipes of old, but there are ways to make your favourite timeless tipple sans-spirit. Here, MoM chats with three drinks experts for tips on making a cracking alcohol-free classic cocktail (and a recipe for the non-alcoholic French 75)… 

Think about your favourite cocktail. What makes it so delicious? Is it the crisp, fresh notes associated with a Martini? The sweet, hot unctuousness of an Old Fashioned? Whatever it is, the drink is more than simply a platform for the base spirit with which it’s made. So it makes sense that there’s more to creating a alcohol-free classic cocktail than simply switching out the alcohol. After all, flavour is just one element of an alcoholic base spirit – there’s also a mouth-coating texture, a cooling effect, and later, a gentle, warming heat. 

“Alcohol is a fabulous tool for carrying flavour and without it, you do lack a certain amount of bite, so you have to be clever,” says William Borrell, owner low-alcohol spirit Willow, which contains 15mg of broad-spectrum CBD in each 700ml bottle. “I’ve seen a few startenders in the market use peppers and chilis for that reaction, that mouthfeel.”

The Nightcap

Ladies and Gentleman, Mr William Borrell!

Making a non-alcoholic serve that accounts for those factors without drastically changing the flavour (or tasting like flavoured water) really isn’t easy. Just like the greatness of a restaurant is often better measured by the deliciousness of its vegetable dishes rather than its steak, the world’s finest bars can be judged by the complexity and downright tastiness of their alcohol-free offering.

“It takes a good bartender to make a good cocktail with no alcohol,” acknowledges drinks expert Camille Vidalle, founder of mindful cocktail website La Maison Wellness. “You don’t have the structure of the spirit to give you the backbone of the cocktail. So, how can you use an alcohol-free spirit to make a sophisticated, grown up cocktail – and not like a juice straight from the kids menu?” 

The journey to a truly delicious alcohol-free classic starts in the supermarket. Before you even think about dusting off your shaker, choose your ingredients wisely. “You don’t have much to hide behind, so the quality and the taste of each and every ingredient is crucial – as it always should be,” Vidalle says. “Use fresh ingredients like you would in cooking. Fresh and in season is always the best.”

When it comes to methodology, construct your drink “from the aroma to start and the taste on the finish,” says Vidalle. “Layer the flavours of your drink so it doesn’t fall flat. Non-alcoholic spirits give structure and complexity to a cocktail – layering juices on juices won’t work.” She also advocates for incorporating high quality essential oils, herbs and spices, so long as you’re careful about the quantity. 

Let’s Get Fizzical

Let’s Get Fizzical (recipe below)

While creativity is always encouraged, a little technique (and a little bar know-how). “Know what’s in the glass and how it will react,” Vidalle suggests. “For example, if you’re using an essential oil, how are you incorporating it into the cocktail? If it’s shaken, shake it quick – most non-alcoholic spirits are water-based and you don’t want to over dilute your cocktail.”

Finally, don’t forget about presentation. Lots of lovely ice, an attractive and aromatic garnish, and a fancy glass can make a striking difference to a cocktail’s drinkability. “You drink with your eyes, the same way you eat with your eyes,” explains Vidalle. “Even if you aren’t aiming to make it the most Instagrammable cocktail in town, you do have to make it look like an appetising adult beverage and not a smoothie in a pint glass.”

When it comes to non-alcoholic cocktails, the texture, mouthfeel, and length of the experience is something that drinkers really do care about, attests Geyan Surendran, development scientist and botanical alchemist at non-alcoholic spirit brand Three Spirit. “What we do differently further to that is function, addressing why people drink in the first place,” he says. “To elevate them, to keep them going, to relax them.” As such, each Three Spirit bottling incorporates plant-based ingredients that interact with your nervous system to mimic some of the sensations brought about by alcohol.

These days there’s no shortage of choices, with bottlings and flavours inspired by rum, bourbon, amaro, vermouth and more, as Vidalle points out. A word of advice here: don’t assume you can always safely store those bottles in your spirits cabinet – check the label first. “You’ve got loads of options to choose from to build a mindful home bar, but remember that most of those ingredients are better kept in the fridge after opening,” she says.

Fizz The Season

Fizz The Season

Why not kick off your alcohol-free classics creativity with what’s said to be the world’s first no-alcohol ‘Champagne’ cocktail, the appropriately named Fizz The Season? Borrell has kindly shared the recipe below…

45ml Willow
5ml lemon citrus
15ml elderflower cordial
Eisberg Sparkling Blanc to top

Add the Willow, lemon citrus and elderflower cordial in a mixing glass with ice, stir and strain into a chilled coupe. Top with Eisberg Sparkling Blanc.

Alternatively, you could try Let’s Get Fizzical – a booze-free take on a French 75.

45ml Willow
5ml citrus
7.5ml sugar syrup
Eisberg Sparkling Rosé to top.

Add the Willow, citrus and sugar syrup in a mixing glass with ice, stir and strain into a  Champagne flute. Top with Eisberg Sparkling Rose.

 

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Mini Martinis – the next big cocktail trend

What could be better than a cool, crisp, refreshing Martini? A tiny ’Tini served in a miniature coupe, of course! As bartenders and spirits brands increasingly turn their hand towards…

What could be better than a cool, crisp, refreshing Martini? A tiny ’Tini served in a miniature coupe, of course! As bartenders and spirits brands increasingly turn their hand towards the charming cocktail serve, we take a closer look…

It’s a well-known fact that miniature things are adorable, and a scaled-down Martini is no exception. First and foremost, the tiny ’Tini trend reflects “a desire to get back to reasonable-sized cocktails that you can enjoy in a reasonable amount of time before it goes tepid and warm,” agrees Ryan Gavin, bar manager at Gran Tivoli and Peppi’s Cellar in Lower Manhattan, who also cites “the sheer adorableness of all things ‘mini’” as a catalyst. “This, of course, makes these things highly Instagrammable,” he says. Couple this with the natural creative flair of the modern bartender, and you’ve got yourself a trend with legs.”

Awwww, look at those tiny Martinis! They’re adorable

So compelling is the emerging trend, the Absolut Elyx Boutique has created miniature copper coupes that hold just three ounces [85ml] of the sophisticated serve. Instagram aside, there’s a logic to the launch. “The first three sips are simply the most enjoyable,” explains Miranda Dickson, global brand director for Absolut Elyx. And with a small vessel, the last sip will be as cool as the first.“The temperature of a Martini is more important than that of any other cocktail – as soon as the Martini is poured, even into a chilled glass, the temperature is going to go up,” she continues. 

Plus, there’s no denying that the Martini is a strong, spirit-forward drink. By shrinking the serve, you can actually enjoy more than one or two without having to hail a taxi. “Serving them in miniature enables our guests to not only enjoy the Martini at the most optimal temperature but also to try a couple – allowing them to experiment with different levels of dryness, different vermouths, olives, citrus twists, bitters, etcetera,” Dickson adds. You can explore the serve a little more responsibly, in essence.

While it’s gaining traction now, the mini Martini is by no means a new invention “Martinis have been enjoyed in tiny serves since the beginning of the 20th century; the tiny size of the cocktail glasses from that period are testament to this,” Dickson says. “The nineties saw a trend for huge oversized Martinis – the most popular bars in their heyday served 14oz [400ml] ones,” Dickson continues. “Considering it’s predominantly liquor with some dilution, that’s a pretty hefty serve! By the end, it was room temperature and really not a great experience.”

Peppi's Cellar Back Bar

Peppi’s Cellar is a booze wonderland

The burgeoning ‘no and low’ sector is testament that today’s drinkers want to socialise more responsibly. More and more people are going out to enjoy themselves without constantly over-indulging, explains Marshall Minaya, beverage director at New York bar Valerie. “As someone on the working side of the bar, serving mini Martinis is a grand idea,” Minaya continues. “Every night we are out to throw a party, and we want everyone and anyone to attend our party. Our goal is not to get people drunk, but to have people imbibe on personally crafted cocktails that they truly enjoy.” 

Presenting the Martini in a miniature vessel also democratises the drink, says Dickson. “Although the Martini is a well known, storied drink, steeped in glamour, celebration and sophistication, I think people are a little challenged by a 7oz [200ml] spirit-forward strong cocktail – which is, by anyone’s measure, a serious drink,” she says. “Enjoying the drink in smaller, bite-size serves makes it less serious, more fun, and ultimately more accessible for people to try.”

Ready to take on the tiny ’Tini? Keep reading for three miniature variations on the classic serve to try out at home… 

Either that’s a tiny Martini or the bartender has enormous hands

Italian Minis by Peppi’s Cellar at Gran Tivoli

30ml Fords Gin
15ml Carpano Dry Vermouth
7.5ml Strega Liqueur
1 dash orange bitters
7.5ml filtered water

Make in advance and keep chilled in the freezer until ready to serve. Garnish with a pickled grape tomato.

Mini Gibson by Valerie

37.5ml Le Gin
7.5ml Dry vermouth

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass, fill with ice. Stir. Strain into 3oz Martini glass and garnish with a pickled pearl onion.

Mini Elyx Martini by Absolut Elyx 

25ml Absolut Elyx
5ml Lillet Blanc 

Combine both ingredients in a mixing glass and stir over plenty of cubed ice. Strain into a Chilled Copper Tiny Tini Coupe and garnish with lemon zest or an olive. 

 

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New Arrival of the Week: Willem Barentsz Mandarin and Jasmine Gin

This week we have been mostly drinking an exotic flavoured gin inspired by a Dutch explorer. To learn more, we spoke with founder of Willem Barentsz gin, Michael Claessens. Barentsz…

This week we have been mostly drinking an exotic flavoured gin inspired by a Dutch explorer. To learn more, we spoke with founder of Willem Barentsz gin, Michael Claessens.

Barentsz is named after a 16th century explorer Captain Willem Barentsz who attempted to find a way through the Arctic to China. He didn’t succeed but gave his name to the Barents Sea somewhere way up north between Norway and Russia. Barentsz’s intrepid nature and never-say-die attitude inspired Michael Claessens to create his own gin.

Drink runs in the family blood: “My father’s business, Claessens, is the foremost specialists for the development and creation of brands for the international beverage industry. It has been developing, re-positioning and creating brands for nearly 40 years,” he told us. So starting his own drinks brand was the most natural thing in the world. And with his Anglo-Dutch heritage, gin was the obvious choice: “Gin has clear ties with my two home countries – UK and Holland. My family’s Dutch roots, blended with my London upbringing, made it appropriate that the new brand should be a gin – which was born in Holland and perfected in London”, he said.

Michael Claessens.

It’s Michael Claessens!

Refreshingly, he is totally candid about where the gin is made, by Charles Maxwell at Thames Distillers in London. Claessens knew exactly what he was looking for when designing his own gin with Maxwell: “Barentsz is different in that we actually spent time looking at the concept of gin from the perspective of ‘mouth feel’. It was very important to us that the harsh and often bitter reputation of gin was overcome, in order that we could create a spirit foundation of the finest quality that was soft enough to allow for more delicate and fresh botanicals – and a gin that could actually be enjoyed neat over ice.” He went on to say: “I spent a long time playing with the formulation of our spirit foundation. I wanted it to be something that tasted smooth before the botanicals were added.” The result was a special spirit made from two grains, golden rye and winter wheat.

We are big fans of the standard bottling here at MoM. With its jasmine note, it’s very distinctive but this doesn’t stop it being extremely versatile. It achieves the gin triple crown of being superb in a G&T, a Martini and Negroni. It was honoured with a gold medal at the IWSC in 2018. This new version turns up the jasmine and adds mandarin to the mix. “Once again, we seek to honour the pioneering spirit of the Dutch Arctic explorer, Willem Barentsz,” Claessens said. “Our mandarin and jasmine botanicals are inspired by his quest for a northeastern trading route to China by way of the sea. Mandarin oranges symbolise luck at Chinese new year and our jasmine flowers are sourced from China.”

Willem Barentsz Mandarin and Jasmine Gin takes on some colour and sweetness from the mandarins but, according to Claessens, there is “no artificial colouring or sweeteners and no sugar. All sweetness is natural”. Claessens recommends drinking it neat over ice with a twist of orange but like its brother, it’s lovely with a decent tonic water. So let’s raise a glass to Williem Barentsz and the Anglo-Dutch alliance and himself. Proost!

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Cocktail of the Week: The Martinez

It’s not easy being a Martinez, watching your child, Martini, become the most famous drink in the world while you lay forgotten about in dusty old cocktail books. So this…

It’s not easy being a Martinez, watching your child, Martini, become the most famous drink in the world while you lay forgotten about in dusty old cocktail books. So this week, we’re resurrecting this classic with a special oak-aged gin from Martin Miller’s. 

Before anybody had thought to put the words ‘craft’ and ‘gin’ together, there was Martin Miller’s Gin. It was launched in 1999, that’s 10 years BS (Before Sipsmith), by Martin Miller of Miller’s Antiques guide fame. Craft gin years work rather like dog years, making Martin Miller’s 70 years old! It’s distilled at the Langley Distillery in the West Midlands before being shipped to Iceland where it’s blended with spring water. This makes it sound a bit gimmicky but Martin Miller’s quickly established itself as a favourite among bartenders and drinks writers. 

Martin Miller himself died in 2013 but the company goes from strength to strength. It produces a range of oak-aged gin called 9 Moons after the number of months the spirit is aged. The latest version has just been launched, called Solera Reserve – it uses French oak barrels and a solera process to ensure consistency. Some oak-aged gins can rather whack you around the head with oakiness but this is quite subtle, giving a creaminess, roundness and spice without overpowering the botanicals.

Martinez

A Martin Miller’s Martinez

The company recommends serving it in a Martinez. This 19th century classic is often thought of as the forerunner of the Martini. David Embury in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks refers to the Martinez as “the original Martini.” The cocktail itself is probably named after a town in California called Martinez, the inhabitants of the town certainly think so as there’s a plaque saying as much in the town square. It’s essentially a Manhattan made with gin instead of rye or bourbon. An early recipe in O. Byron’s The Modern Bartender from 1884 specifies using Dutch gin which would have been oak-aged so this version from Martin Miller is a nod to the original Martinez, though the Dutch gin would have also been sweet. Other original versions call for another sweet gin, Old Tom.

For a long time, the Martinez lived in the shadow of its more famous off-spring. Ask for one and you might be given a blank look, but in recent years there’s been a mini-revival, helped by the return of sweeter styles of gin and the availability of exciting new vermouths. The Martinez is a very broad church running the gamut from very sweet, made with Old Tom gin and a high percentage of Italian vermouth, to almost Martini levels of dryness. Some versions call for a rinse of absinthe which certainly makes it distinctive. This one is at the drier end but still is very much a sweet cocktail as it uses Italian vermouth and Maraschino liqueur. The creaminess and spice of the oak-ageing takes this into Manhattan territory. One could use it as a gateway cocktail to tempt your gin-loving friend into brown spirits.

Anyway, here’s the Martinez. We hope you like it.

50ml Martin Miller’s 9 Moons Solera Reserve Gin 
5ml Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir all the ingredients in a shaker with lots of ice for a minute or so. Strain into a chilled coupe or Martini glass and garnish with a piece of lemon peel.

 

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New Arrival of the Week: Batch Gin Rummy

This week we’re taking a look at a little distillery in Burnley which makes some seriously interesting spirits including a barrel-aged gin, a hopped vodka and breakfast rum. Because everyone…

This week we’re taking a look at a little distillery in Burnley which makes some seriously interesting spirits including a barrel-aged gin, a hopped vodka and breakfast rum. Because everyone enjoys rum with their breakfast, or is that just us?

Batch began as a brewery in Hampshire but founder Phil Whitwell got the gin bug inspired by visits to Spain where his mother lives. The only problem was that he didn’t have the space. So he ended up moving to Burnley in Lancashire, and building a distillery in a basement belonging to his nephew Ollie Sanderson who became head distiller. The Burnley basement was officially opened as a distillery, by the High Sheriff of Lancashire, no less. Their first release, called Batch Gin, won a silver medal at the San Francisco World Spirit Competition. Not bad for beginners. 

What began as a hobby with both Whitwell and Sanderson having full time jobs quickly got serious when northern supermarket chain, Booth’s, took them on, Suddenly that basement seemed awfully cramped so in 2016 they moved to a converted mill also in Burnley with a custom-built 165 litre still called Adrian. The success has continued: last year their 55% ABV Industrial Strength gin won a double gold in San Francisco. Then, earlier this year, the Batch boys were inducted into the Gin Guild so they get to wear little silver juniper branches to show how much they love gin. 

Head distiller Ollie Sanderson in action

Alongside a core range, the company produces ‘Batch Innovations’ which are a bit more far out. These include one that has just arrived with us called USA Breakfast Rum. No, it’s not designed to be drunk at breakfast, though you could, we won’t judge you. Instead, it’s inspired by the great American breakfast and flavoured with maple syrup, pecan nuts and blueberries.

But what the Batch team really love to do is age stuff in barrel. So much so that Whitwell somehow acquired a 3200 litre Cognac cask during a family holiday to France. Well, it makes a change from a beret and a tin of confit de canard. Operations manager Jodhi Didsdale told us that they got a surprise when a cask the size of six sherry butts turned up one day on the back of a lorry. This gigantic barrel is used to age a gin made with whinberries (aka bilberries). 

Barrel-aged gins are nothing new. In fact, in the olden days when most  liquids were transported in barrels, most gin would have been ‘cask-aged’ to some extent.  So-called yellow gins were produced in small quantities throughout the 20th century but nowadays are firmly back in vogue with many distilleries including Beefeater offering aged versions. 

What do you get if you cross gin with rum? Gin rummy!

Batch has combined its love of gin, rum, cask-ageing and bad puns in a product called Gin Rummy. First the team blended together the Signature and the Industrial Strength gin. The danger with aged gins is that the wood will overpower the ginniness of the gin so this only spent about a month in a PX sherry cask that had been used to age rum. Then it spent some time in a whisky cask before being bottled at 42% ABV. Operations manager Didsdale described it as “quite a playful one”. She recommends drinking it with cola which sounds a bit odd but according to her “the cola brings out the rum elements in the gin.” We think that barrel-aged note would work really well with barrel-aged vermouth so try it in a Martini, heavy on the Noilly Prat for the full cask effect.

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Cocktail of the Week: The Americano

This week’s cocktail unites two of Italy’s great aperitifs, Campari and Martini Rosso, in one glass. It’s the Americano! The Americano used to be called the Milano-Torino because it contained…

This week’s cocktail unites two of Italy’s great aperitifs, Campari and Martini Rosso, in one glass. It’s the Americano!

The Americano used to be called the Milano-Torino because it contained Campari from Milan and Martini Rosso vermouth from Turin. It was originally served at the Milan bar belonging to the creator of Campari, Gaspare Campari. The name changed when American tourists arrived in Italy in the 1920s. They were escaping Prohibition and with the strong dollar, continental Europe was their playground. It’s the decadent generation immortalised in the novels of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

And what did these louche Americans drink when they were in Italy splashing their cash around and upsetting the locals with their loose morals, hot jazz and enormous baggy trousers? Why, Campari and Martini, of course, with a splash of soda. Due to its ubiquity amongst expat Americans, the drink became known as an Americano. A similar thing happened with coffee. Espresso was a little too strong for the tourists so they asked for it diluted with hot water, the Americano coffee was born.

Americans were still causing trouble in the 1950s. There’s a song about their influence on Italian youth by Neapolitan musician Renato Carosone called Tu ‘Vuò Fà L’Americano’. You might recall it from the 1999 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel, The Talented Mr Ripley (the film has its moments but the book is brilliant. If you haven’t read it, you’re in for a treat). Carosone’s song is about an Italian boy trying to ape American fashions: smoking Camel cigarettes, dancing to rock n’ roll and playing baseball (though he drinks Whisky and Sodas, not Americanos). Despite his modish veneer, this wannabe Italian is still living off his parents. 

But it’s not just Americans and Italians who fell for the charms of the Americano. It crops up in Ian Fleming’s short story ‘From a View to a Kill’ where Bond recommends drinking it in hot weather where one of his more usual drinks like a vodka Martini would be too strong. It’s a great drink for when you really want a Negroni but plan to get some work done/ bump off a Smersh agent in the afternoon.

It’s one of those cocktails that requires very little thought. You could experiment with other amari but I’m keeping it traditional with Campari. Then for the vermouth, well, it really has to be Martini. I’m using Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino which is made with red wines from Piedmont, the flavour is more floral and complex than the classic Martini Rosso. 

Right, that’s enough preamble, it’s time to put on some appropriate music and let’s make an Americano!

35ml Campari
35ml Martini Rubino Riserva Speciale Rosso vermouth
Soda water

Fill a highball or tumbler with ice, add the Campari and Martini and give it a good stir. Top up with soda, stir gently and garnish with an orange slice.

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