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Celebrating World Martini Day 2021

With some of the world's best mixologists at some of the world's best bars.

Published: 18th June 2021

Its place in popular culture was secured when a spy uttered the immortal words ‘shaken, not stirred’. And although the correct method is indeed ‘stirred not shaken’, the Martini cocktail and all its siblings – the vesper, the gibson, the breakfast and the dirty, along with countless variations and takes – is cocktail royalty.

Three simple ingredients in the right ratio, served at the right temperature, in the right setting can leave an imprint on your very soul. Everyone remembers the first time they tried their perfect martini. That perfect ratio. At the perfect temperature. In the perfect setting. Mastering the perfect martini takes practice, skill and an intimate understanding of how the three simple ingredients of gin, vermouth and garnish blend, meddle and cajole your senses and when served right, leave you in awe.

Saturday the 19th of June is World Martini Day 2021 and we could think of no better way to celebrate than by asking some of the world’s most respected bartenders, mixologists, movers and shakers from some of the world’s best bars why they believe the Martini has stood the test of time and what they believe makes the perfect martini.

Maybe Sammy, Sydney, Australia

With the focus on drinks, the customer and hospitality, Maybe Sammy has garnered a number of awards in recent years including Number 11 World’s Best Bars 2020, Best New International Cocktail Bar Tales of The Cocktail 2019 and more. Combining the sophistication of 1950’s birth of cool where Hollywood glamour and the emergence of the Rat Pack shook up the norm with a hearty mix of sophistication and high jinks, Maybe Sammy blends both in equal measure.

Why do you think the Martini cocktail has stood the test of time? 

It is a timeless classic with the most clean and crisp taste without any additional extravagant ingredients or garnishes. It is so simple and yet so complex which makes it easy to drink and also easy to modify to the personal preference. This drink has style and class and it has a reputation of being one of the most classiest drinks, ever. Even if you are not a cocktail person, you would know or recognise a Martini.”

What makes the perfect Martini? 

“It’s a combination of a few elements. Premium quality spirits (gin or vodka) and a really good quality dry vermouth with just a drop of orange bitters. Don’t forget it’s all about temperature – it has to be served super cold. Chill your martini glass in a freezer beforehand and use super cold ice. Perfection is in the detail and that should follow through to the garnish so make sure your lemon peel is perfectly trimmed or you use a really good quality green olive.”

Martin Hudak, Bartender, Maybe Sammy

ATLAS Bar, Singapore

A mecca for gin connoisseurs, ATLAS Bar is one of the must visit destinations in the world for those looking for the ultimate gin experience. Housing a collection of over 1,300 gins, the team at ATLAS Bar know their gins. From small batch creations to gins that are over 50 years old, the menu boasts a gin for all occasions. It may come as no surprise then that the team at ATLAS Bar also know a thing or two about cocktails. The menu features all the classics including the Gimlet, French 75 along with a variety of contemporary and vintage Martinis.

The focus of the art deco style interior is the ATLAS Bar gin tower. A spectacular homage to the global gin category with gins from all four corners of the world, including a curated selection of Scottish Gins. With a seasonal cocktail menu that continues to evolve, one of the world’s largest collections of gin to be found at any bar and the ATLAS Juniper Society, a curated gin club for gin drinkers, ATLAS Bar is a true beacon of gin for anyone who wants to experience gin and world class hospitality at one of the world’s best bars, which has consistently featured on The World’s 50 Best Bars list, placing number four in 2020.

Why do you think the Martini cocktail has stood the test of time?

“The versatility of the Martini is what makes it timeless. It allows bartenders to stretch their imagination, get creative and play with ratios. The Martini only requires two ingredients, three if you count bitters, providing simple building blocks to innovate. And, of course, the Martini glass is always distinct and seen as the mark of sophistication.”

What makes the perfect Martini?

“I have found the perfect Martini to be one made with a london dry gin with an ABV above 45%. The perfect dilution of gin and vermouth poured over an ice-cold glass. Lately, I have tried this technique of “reverse freezing” where I will chill the glass with the Martini for an extra 5-10minutes to have a perfectly chilled drink. Zested with lemon oils and garnished with a twist. It’s simple, classic, and it can’t go wrong.”

Yana Kamaruddin, Assistant Head Bartender, ATLAS Bar

Connaught Bar, London, England

The Connaught Hotel combines world class hospitality along with a careful blend of tradition and contemporary elegance, always with the guest’s experience at heart. Originally it opened its doors in 1815 as the Prince of Saxe Coburg Hotel before under going a number of renovations over the last two centuries. An iconic establishment that has seen guests from the world of movies, music, world leaders and more visit; the team at The Connaught Hotel are well versed at making sure guests are well looked after.

It’s this attention to detail and ability to create an experience for guests that can also be found at the Connaught Bar, located within the hotel. Opened in 2008, the bar combines elements of the cubism movement from the turn of the century and 1920s Art Deco movement and a splash of modern sophistication. You wouldn’t be surprised to turn around and see Picasso and Hemingway having a deep conversation whilst sipping on Martinis as the bar draws you into an era of style, glamor and panache.

The drinks menu includes the classics along with a number of original cocktails that have been created to excite the palate and elevate the senses. Considered. Elegant. Exciting. Like the perfect cocktail, the bar strikes that fine balance of attentive and knowledgable staff and a rich menu of carefully crafted drinks that are served in a bar that wraps its arms around you as you browse the menu. It’s of no surprise that Connaught Bar was voted number one on The World’s 50 Best Bars list for 2020.

Why do you think the Martini cocktail has stood the test of time?

“The Martini is timeless and an effortlessly elegant bar staple that will forever hold a place in our hearts. Just look at its special distinct glass. It’s a glass that announces to everyone that you are drinking a martini. It’s also thanks to its classicism and its history – linked to literature and cinema – that the Martini is so iconic.”

Giorgio Bargiani, Head Mixologist, The Connaught

What makes the perfect Martini?

“The secret to a perfect Martini lies in its simplicity, therefore in its detail. Ice is key to achieving great texture. We recommend using crystal clear ice. If you want to go the extra mile, blend different vermouths to have a richer mix of aromas. The garnish might be a small detail, but its quality impacts the overall taste. We use unwaxed organic lemon, twist and squeeze the zest while pouring the cocktail. If you prefer olives over lemon, use unseated green olive in brine without olive oil.”

Agostino Perrone, Director of Mixology, The Connaught 

The Old Man, Hong Kong

Ernest Hemingway had a long association with cocktails throughout his life, having travelled the world as a journalist and novelist providing many opportunities to stop for refreshments. The Ritz Paris, Harry’s Bar Venice, Sloppy Joe’s Key West Florida. Hemingway knew his way around a bar and knew how to socialise. His adventures also provided inspiration for moments and characters in his writing although Hemingway protested that he would never drink when he was working and writing.

The Old Man opened its doors in 2017. Located in Soho, Hong Kong, the bar takes its inspiration from the 1952 Ernest Hemingway novel about a Cuban fisherman and the biggest catch of his life. The bar mixes the adventurous edge of Hemingway’s life and works with subtle Asian influence. Brave and bold cocktails that meddle experimentation, balance, playful presentation and a dash of theatre. Although a relative new comer, the bar has quickly captured the imaginations of patrons and the Asian bar scene The Old Man Hong Kong was awarded number one Best Bar in Asia 2019 and number two 2020, as well as number 9 in World’s 50 Best Bars in 2019.

Why do you think the Martini cocktail has stood the test of time?

“Why I believe this is because of its versatility, its simplicity and its panache. Sipping a martini at a fancy bar/place just empowers you, would you like it shaken or stirred, dirty or dry, gin or vodka and with or without vermouth. The versatility of this drink can appease to a number of guests today. Even the name today can be referred to as glassware instead of just the drink itself.”

What makes the perfect Martini?

“At Old Man I personally believe that there is no perfect martini, we strive for perfection, innovation and efficiency but perfection is never there. Quality of ingredients, temperature and proportions can all strive to perfection however will anyone ever achieve it, I don’t believe so and I hope not because after all if something is perfect everyone will be afraid to change it, we push the boundaries with new ingredients and new techniques that can wow people and I hope all bartenders do the same. 

“We do our best to provide the best cocktails and in this case martinis. We have a variation of the dirty martini that is both innovative and it tells a story in its ingredients. After all, being a bartender isn’t just about making drinks, it’s about making experiences memorable. Whether that be with our own stories or stories about the drinks themselves. Our version of the dirty martini is called “true at the first light”, which uses rotovap wild moss distillate, gin, acacia honey bergamot, vinegar, olive oil and black salt.

“In Hong Kong we have lots of hiking trails and our gin we use is rotovap distilate of wild moss, which is foraged when we’re out hiking along the trails in Hong Kong, this helps highlight the botanical notes in the gin we use, as well as provide an earthy aftertaste. We use a bergamont spray to open up the citrusy sides of the drink as well as honey vinegar to provide an incredible twist to the dirty martini.”

Nikita Mateev, Operations Director, The Old Man

Gin Palace, Melbourne, Australia

Serving its guests the finest selections of gins, cocktails and more since 1997, Gin Palace Melbourne has been the go-to destination for gin drinkers in Australia for more than two decades. The Gin Palace in Melbourne however began its life back in the latter half of the 1800s before the venue was shut down in October of 1870 and finally its resurrection by the late, and greatly missed, Vernon Chalker in 1997.

A pioneer among Melbourne’s bar renaissance and and lane culture, which has seen unloved urban alleys and lanes become thriving and bustling areas featuring bars, cafes, independent shops and more, Gin Palace Melbourne was well ahead of the current gin boom. With its focus on creating an experience for guests, underpinned with fun, a carefully crafted menu of cocktails and curated selection of gins and spirits and its Great Gatsby decor of glamour, the venue is tied together by its dedicated team of attentive, knowledgable and passionate bar team.

Why do you think the martini has stood the test of time?

“I think there are many reasons for the Martini (rightfully) staying relevant for all this time; it is a perfect example of ‘less is more’ in terms of mixing cocktails. Don’t get me wrong, I love the weird and wonderful creations coming out of bars these days that use unique ingredients, modern techniques and unusual spirits. But I have always loved tradition and classic cocktails. It is also something that is such a personal drink to the guest, everybody likes it differently whether it’s the base spirit, vermouth, wet, dry, up, rocks, shaken, stirred, dirty… the list goes on. This allows you to completely personalise the experience and create infinite variations and riffs on what is essentially a 2 ingredient drink. It has given way to hundreds of beautiful cocktails and will always be recognised as a pillar of bartending. Not to mention the countless appearances in TV/films/books as a symbol of decadence or class. When you go out to your favourite bar or restaurant, you like to feel special. And nothing makes people feel more special than having an ice cold martini in their hand.”

What makes the perfect martini?

“Now this is a tricky question. From a technical point of view, balance is everything as is the case with all cocktails. The martini is easy on paper, so simple to make. But in practice it’s one of the hardest drinks to get right. Temperature, ratio, spirit-vermouth pairing and the all-important dilution needs to be perfect for the drink to shine and not end up a semi-cold, confused mess. And (usually) without the safety cushion of rocks that other stir-down cocktails benefit from, once it’s in the glass it has nothing to hide behind. Everything must come together in unison to make a ‘perfect’ martini.

“But to be honest, I don’t think this question has a definitive answer. When you can make everything from a naked Navy Strength Churchill martini to a filthy dirty half-half martini rinsed with Islay scotch (and any variation in between), it really becomes a subjective matter. There are infinite variations that all appeal to different palates and preferences. I’ve made specific ones that I would never drink in my life, but the guest has fallen in love with and ordered again and again. Likewise, I’m sure many people would turn their nose up at my idea of a ‘perfect martini’. As I mentioned before, it is an exceptionally personal cocktail so as cliche as it sounds, it is perfect however you like to drink it.”

Samuel Wallace, Venue Manager, Gin Palace

Sin + Tax, Johannesburg, South Africa

This Joburg based speakeasy has been slowly making waves in the international bar scene. Established by the self-taught chef and restaurateur behind Coalition, Eatery JHB, Thief Restaurant and Parliament, Shayne Holt opened Sin + Tax in December 2016. Shayne brought in mixologist Julian Short, who had already worked in one of Shayne’s other venues, helping to develop the cocktail menu for Sin + Tax.

Since opening its doors, Sin + Tax has continued to push the South African mixology scene forward. With a drinks menu that changes with the seasons and themes, and placing at 69 on the World’s Top 50 Bars competition in 2020, Sin + Tax still operates as a classic speakeasy. The only thing that gives the game away is the eager customers waiting outside. Limited to 40 customers at anyone time, once through the door, every customer is welcomed, seated and invited to explore the current drinks menu with expert advice provided by the bar team on each cocktail on the menu. Each cocktail is put through a tried and tested process of creation and refinement, every element is looked at to showcase the complexity and depth a well made, carefully created cocktail can provide to the drinker.

Why do you think the Martini cocktail has stood the test of time?

“The martini is a beautiful drink. Complex and sophisticated, tricky to make, and also, very personal. As spirits and bartending techniques evolve, so does the Martini cocktail. In many ways, it will always be the quintessential cocktail.”

What makes the perfect Martini?

“What makes the perfect martini is a great bartender. Quite simply, a solid bartender will know what ingredients they’re working with, as well as having asked the correct questions upon the initial request for a martini. All this combined with great technique and a good palate. Our Martini uses a 70ml of gin, 15ml of brine from pickled or brined fruit, 5ml dry vermouth garnished with a deep fried curry leaf or two caper berries. With the gin, we tend to go with something with a higher ABV, something robust and deep.”

Julian Short, Co-Founder and Head Mixologist, Sin + Tax

The Clumsies, Athens, Greece

Located in the centre of Athens, The Clumsies has consistently featured in any world’s best bars list. Dating from 1919, the building that houses The Clumsies spans multiple levels and rooms that provide different spaces to sit, relax and socialise. The co-owners Vasilis Kyritsis and Nikos Bakoulis, have crated a hub of mixology and creativity; a place buzzing with life and soul dedicated to elevating the experience for the casual drinker and drinks connoisseur alike, a warm welcome awaits all.

With a variety of bar take overs, guest bartenders and more, the reach of The Clumsies and their spirit of great bartending and craft, far outreaches their home bar in Athens. And although their reputation has grown, winning numerous awards and accolades, The Clumsies and the team remain grounded. The priority is the drinks, where the bar combines liquids, food, hospitality and experience for visitors… with a healthy measure of Greek culture. The Clumsies placed at number three on the World’s 50 Best Bars list for 2020.

Why do you think the Martini cocktail has stood the test of time?

“Simplicity is the answer behind this question, simplicity because we are talking about a two to three ingredients cocktail, but simplicity which is combined to give us one of the most complex and difficult cocktails to serve, in my humble opinion. Martinis are really personal cocktails because of the spirit a guest is choosing to be mixed with, it should be his or hers favourite Gin or Vodka. That is another reason I believe it has stood through the years, because every each one of us has, in our minds and tongues, his or her own Perfect Served Martini. And this allows me to answer the very next question!”

What makes the perfect Martini?

“The Perfect Served Martini is made when first of all, you have all of your ingredients chilled, frozen would be best. Then a really high quality of ice, clear to the eye, that wouldn’t allow dilution of the cocktail. Third of all, it takes a really strong will from the bartender to please a guest’s request to the highest possible standard. That is the most important one, for me. A super frozen Nic n Nora glass and a delicious Greek green olive will absolutely add the perfect final touch to a Martini Cocktail.”

Georgia Georgakopoulou, Senior Bartender, The Clumsies

Read a brief history of the Martini here.

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