It has been a good moment since I ordered a proper martini at a hotel piano bar, so I was thrilled to be invited to this tasting event courtesy of Belvedere Vodka and Byblos, the newest middle-eastern kid on the Duncan St. block.  We were entertained and educated by their spirited (ha, ha)  global ambassador, Ms. Ali Dedianko. The Martini is a complex drink with a story that dates to the 1800s, below you will find some of the finer points of mixing and drinking.

1. One of the first recorded martinis was actually called the “martinez” and is generally not favourable to our current palates, most finding it way too sweet.


(a re-creation of Professor Jerry Thomas’ 1887 recipe):
1 oz. Ransom’s Old Tom gin
2 oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
2 dashes of Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1 dash of Boker’s Bitters
1 quarter slice of lemon

Combine all ingredients (save the lemon) in a mixing glass. Add ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a coupe glass. Place the lemon in the glass and serve.

(Source: askmen.com)

2. Some people are intimidated by the classic martini. Who can blame them? There are over 16 quadrillion permutations of the drink based on four major variables:

1. Method – Shaken vs. Stirred 

Golden bar tending rule: Stir things of like density, faster 25-30 seconds.  Shake different densities – 1.5 – 2 minutes.
Shaking aerates and results in a frothy and livelier drink.
Stirring brings a relaxing energy, of unwinding like drinking a fine scotch and is done while juggling other orders.
The rumour of “bruising” the alcohol by shaking it too much is just not true, although it is possible to overate.
Filling a glass with ice does not make your drink watery, it actually keeps the ice from melting

2. Vermouth – Lillet vs. Dolin

Vermouth comes from the German word for wormwood, and these days any additive from the sage family is fair game.

Lillet is not a true vermouth as it contains no sage or wormwood.

Bartenders were disgusted by the overuse of sweet Vermouth in the 80s and 90s to mask the heavy alcohol taste and so it was shunned and still is, although it has small resurgences every now and then, it will never shake the tacky reputation.

3. Ratio – Wet (1/6) vs. Dry (1/3) 

Wet = more vermouth vs dry = less
Vermouth is choice of bartender
A dry martini typically means no vermouth

4. Garnish – Olive vs. Lemon vs. Cherry (1800s only)

Olives added to martinis lend an umami quality leaving the drinker wanting more of the ineffable substance. Lemons add their own refreshing spritz.

Cherries were presumably exotic and luxurious at the time, and lend a sweetness upon biting.


3. Probably 80% of what we think of as ‘martini’ are nothing of the sort, and are actually referred to as ‘tinis’. Think Starbucks and their millions of coffee drink combinations and the purists that hate them.

A mango-tini is not a mar-tini. Nor is a Manhattan (which can be served in a martini glass), or a martini-hee-hee.


4. Belvedere Vodka was the world’s first super premium vodka

The world consumes over 5 billion litres of vodka annually and only 2 billion of rum.

Belvedere Vodka uses a 600 year old brewing technique and is made in Poland.

They use Dankovsky Gold Rye which has a high starch content, which leads to more sugars released, which means more flavour for you.

Belvedere Vodka is four-times distilled for smoothness. It’s not neutralized but enhanced and glorified.

Vodka never became a regionally protected substance like champagne or cognac but there is the Polish Vodka Legislation in the works.

“The grains in question are rye, wheats, oats and barley. The legislation projects stipulates that Polish vodka must be produced in Poland.” – (Source: Warsaw Business Journal)


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