You don't get much more classic than a martini.
The marker of a good barman, it may not contain many ingredients but it lays down a gauntlet in terms of execution. And it's a terminological minefield to order, even before you've got into the maths: tell us, what's your ratio?
"The beauty of it is the whole ceremony," says Erik Lorincz, head bartender at The Savoy's award-winning American Bar.
"It's all in the preparation. I fell in love with the martini when I went to Japan. That's quite surprising, right? But there they're known for caring about tiny little details and ritual. That's so important for a martini – you can mess it up so badly!"
Lorincz helps us decode the lingo so that you can order one with your suavity intact.
1 | Gin or vodka?
"Please, there's only one martini and that's a gin martini. Technically speaking, vodka doesn't count." If you insist on vodka, then a Vesper might be for you (see below).
2 | The gin
"You should use London dry, definitely. Along with the dominant juniper, you then have citrus and some savoury notes, like coriander. I use Bombay Sapphire."
3 | The vermouth
A fortified wine steeped with botanicals (much like gin – hence the great combination). "It can be French or Italian but always dry for a traditional martini. I use Cocchi extra dry."
4 | Bitters
"Lots of people forget the bitters, but they were in the original formula. If you want an understanding of martini, the evolution started with the marguerite, which was first mentioned in print in 1896; that was gin, vermouth and a few drops of orange bitters."
5 | Shaken or stirred?
Shaking produces a colder but more diluted result as the ice breaks down into the martini. It also makes for a frothy, cloudy looking drink. Stirring leaves the temperature a point or two higher but you get a silkier effect. Lorincz recommends 35-40 stirs, or 15 seconds of shaking with good-quality ice.
6 | Wet or dry?
More vermouth means a wetter martini. Standard ratios of gin-to-vermouth are 2:1 for wet, and 4:1 for dry. Churchill only required the vermouth to be present in the room rather than the glass, but "that's just cold gin and lemon".
7 | With a twist
A twist of lemon freshens things up. Beware huge chunks sunk in the bottom of the glass, or twists sitting on the rim that fail to infuse any flavour. You want a dainty slice of peel, squeezed over the glass to release a fine spritz of flavour ("like you're doing a magic trick"), but "it should be very small so that by the time you finish your martini, it won't have had time to absorb all the acidity – that's not very pleasant." Other citrus fruits also work well. Try grapefruit with Tanqueray No 10 gin, as that's one of the botanicals in the blend.
8 | The glass
"Make sure it's not too big, or halfway through drinking it's already warm. Once you come to the last sip, it should still be nice and cold. I use a Baccarat glass. Keep it cold in the freezer."