If you want a Manhattan, talk to a New Yorker; if you’re in the mood for a mojito, speak to a Cuban; and if you’re in need of a stiff martini, then seek out an Italian in London, specifically one named Alessandro Palazzi.
The legendary bartender is the man behind the mixer at iconic West End haunt Dukes London, which was frequented by James Bond author Ian Fleming and is said to be the inspiration for the classic 007 line, ‘shaken, not stirred’.
While Palazzi is staunchly against a martini coming with a set of instructions (not always the easiest when interviewing to find out, say, the instructions for fixing the perfect martini), he did share with us the basic steps.
100ml London dry gin
10ml Dry vermouth
Organic lemon peel
- Freeze everything. This includes a small martini glass (not the novelty sized ones chain restaurants use), the shaker and the spirits. “When you serve a martini as cold as possible, you numb the smell of the alcohol, allowing the layer of citrus oil from the lemon to be what comes to your nose.”
- Put three or four ice cubes into your cocktail shaker and add the ingredients. “Traditionally the martini is made with a London dry gin, though some people prefer vodka. Whichever you choose, it needs to be a premium spirit.”
- Select your weapon, agent – shake or stir? “When you shake it you break the ice, which dilutes the drink. A rule I follow is: if you have people over and want them to leave at the end of the night – shake their martini. If you don’t mind them staying, stir the drink.”
- Use a bar knife or a potato peeler to prepare your lemon twist. “Using an organic lemon is very important. If you go to the shop and buy a waxed lemon, you cannot extract the oil. When you peel it, you want to be able to squeeze the skin into the glass and release the oil.”
- Strain the martini into the cocktail glass, twist the lemon peel to release the oil before adding and then serve immediately.
Common Martini Mistakes
- “In the same way when you have a dinner party you serve your food on warm plates so it stays hot, you must always serve a martini in an ice cold glass. It’s a drink to be enjoyed over a conversation.”
- “The gin should be a London dry gin; other gins contain too many botanicals.”
- “People often think the lemon is just for decoration. In fact, the skin contains a lot of oil. This is why is has to be organic and not a waxed one bought from a supermarket.”
- “If you cannot freeze your glass, I tell people they can fill it with ice before. Though many people forget to discharge the ice water before pouring in the drink.”
- “There are already too many rules to remember in life, so your martini shouldn’t come with a strict set of instructions. People don’t break the rules to find out what they like. One of my most unique creations is the White Truffle Martini.”