Human invention has launched untold thousands of cocktails, but only one has developed a genuine model standard by which all others are judged. Immune to shifting taste and fashion, the martini has not only endured, it has prospered. The martini is an honest drink, tasting exactly like what it is and nothing else. The classic martini is a no-nonsense drink that, after sip or two, will make you forget the events of the day and put you in the right mood. But drink too many, and you’re on the floor. It is, in more ways than one, a power drink.
Who invented this drink we now call the Martini? That fact that may never be known. Unfortunately history is not as clear as a Martini. But what we do know is that the Martini is a symbol of high status and cool excess… and it has been the power drink of the rich and famous: Frank Sinatra, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Mae West, Ernest Hemingway, W.C. Fields, Winston Churchill, and of course… James Bond.
It’s no wonder that the martini is Bond’s signature drink. James Bond IS the human embodiment of the Martini – refined, dashing, particular, and packs a devastating punch. “Shaken not stirred.” These three simple words speak volumes about the gentleman-spy. Bond is not only fond of the high life—fast cars, fine food and even finer women—he also realizes that to live life to the fullest, one has to be demanding about the details and extremely precise about ones cocktail.
Today, there are conflicting views as to what qualifies as a martini and what doesn’t. The classic martini calls for gin, but vodka (Bond’s preference) is perfectly acceptable. When ordering, you can also ask for your martini “dry” (less vermouth), “sweet” (more) and “dirty” (with one part olive brine in the mix). Then there are the fruity and chocolate-flavored variations of the 1990s thought to be imposters dressed as martinis. But the classic Martini has been an “inspiration” to these more “eccentric” Martinis’. Like the Cosmopolitan, all have a refined Martini taste but still derive from the classic Martini.
The perfect Martini is all about ratios… and ice. For a perfect Martini chill your stemmed glass and shaker in the freezer. Put two hard-frozen ice cubes into your shaker before mixing, add your ingredients (recipes at the end of article) and shake about eight times (or should you stir?). Pour through a cocktail strainer into your chilled glass. Garnish with an olive, wedge of fruit, or other item… and Voila! Welcome to the world of movie stars, kings, and secret agents!
And what about shaking versus stirring? Followers of Bond’s “shaken not stirred” motto cite that vermouth and gin blend more smoothly when given about eight, firm shakes in a chilled martini shaker with cold, hard ice. Meanwhile, champions of stirring claim that shaking “bruise” the gin&mdashor cloud the drink with impurities such as shards of ice. A suggestion: go to a bartender you trust, order two martinis&mdashone shaken, the other stirred—and see which you prefer. It’s all about personal preference. As Bond himself would probably tell you, you should know what you want, and not be shy about asking for it. Bond even went as far as to invent his own variation of that Martini: In “Casino Royale”, Bond tells the beautiful double agent Vesper Lynd about his special Martini made with gin and vodka and is suddenly inspired to name it after her. The birth of “The Vesper”.
Martinis are about style, taste and attitude. From the way it’s shaken, to the glass it’s poured into, each element adds flavor. Whether you prefer vodka or gin, cosmopolitans or chocolate martinis… let your martini entertain your style!
To discuss James Bond’s signature drink or your own signature drink please visit this post on the CBn forums.
If you want to mix your own martini at home and perhaps enjoy it while watching a Bond film—check out the recipes below:
Medium-dry Vodka Martini (James Bond’s choice in the films)
- 4 parts Vodka
- 1 part Vermouth
- 1 green olive
The ‘Vesper’ Martini (Fleming’s choice)
- 3 parts Gin
- 1 part Vodka
- 1 part Vermouth
- 1 Lemon wedge
Vanilla Vodka Cosmopolitan Martini (Athena’s choice)
- 3 parts Vanilla Vodka (Stoli)
- 1 part Triple Sec
- 1 part Cranberry juice
- Splash of Lime juice
- 1 Cherry or Lime/Orange wedge
- 3 parts Vodka
- 1 part Sour Apple Schnapps
- 1 thin slice of Apple
- 2 parts oz Vanilla Vodka
- 1 part Godiva Liqueur
- 1 Cherry
- optional: swirl the glass with raspberry syrup and/or dip rim of glass in shaved chocolate