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How to: make a classic martini

We asked the head bartender at The Cadogan, a Belmond Hotel, for his tips for mastering martini-making

8 April 2022

Some consider it an essential life skill to be able to rustle up a tray of expertly made cocktails. And we’d agree. That’s why we asked Andrea Taiuti, head barman at The LaLee bar inside The Cadogan, a Belmond Hotel, how to make a classic martini. 

Although its origin story is still debated, the martini has been served in one iteration or another since the late 1800s. It reached its most recognised form by 1922, made with gin and dry vermouth in a ratio of 2:1, stirred in a mixing glass with ice cubes and strained into a chilled cocktail glass. 

Why gin? During Prohibition in America from 1920 to 1933, when booze was banned, gin was one of the easiest spirits to make on the down-low (in a bathtub, usually), making it a favourite of bootleggers. 

Over the past century, the amount of vermouth added steadily dropped. From a preferred gin to vermouth ratio of 3:1 in the 1930s, slipping to 4:1 in the 1940s, and dropping to 5:1 or 6:1 towards the end of the century. 

But ask any bartender and they’ll tell you that martinis are all about preference. James Bond liked his vodka martinis “shaken, not stirred”. When Winston Churchill was once asked how much vermouth he wanted in his cocktail, he said, “I would like to observe the vermouth from across the room while I drink my martini.” Clark Gable used to run the wet cork of a vermouth bottle around the rim of a cocktail glass. 

At The LaLee, Taiuti serves up some of the best martinis we’ve tasted. This is how…

The bar is named after Lillie Langtry; LaLee was her nickname. She was a glamorous Edwardian actress and courtesan and former Cadogan guest. She loved to travel, so many of the drinks on the LaLee’s cocktail list are inspired by her voyages. So our classic martinis are named after Moscow (vodka), London (a Vesper martini, with gin and vodka), and Cologne (gin).

At The LaLee, we stir our martinis, unless asked to do otherwise. The difference is in the dilution; shaking a martini dilutes it more than if it’s stirred and, for some people, becomes easier to drink. But the main thing to know about a martini is that it should be served very, very cold.

All three of these recipes call for dry vermouth. Vermouth, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a fortified wine flavoured with aromatic herbs and spices. Vermouth, specifically, is scented with artemisia absinthium (absinthe wormwood). Noilly Prat and Belsazar dry vermouth are excellent choices for most martinis.

Step 1

Half-fill your mixing glass with ice. 

Step 1 - The LaLee barman Alessandro Lippo fills mixing glasses with ice

Step 2

Measure out and add the vodka or gin (or both, if you’re making the Vesper martini), and the vermouth to the mixing glass

Step 2 - Mixing the alcohol

Step 3

Stir the alcohol with the ice until very cold. About 1 minute should do it.

Step 3 - Stirring until very cold

Step 4

Pop the cocktail strainer over the opening of the mixing glass and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Step 4 - Straining the cocktail 

Step 5

Prepare your garnish of choice on the cocktail stick.

Step 5 - Prepared garnishes 

Step 6

Serve the garnish on the side or gently place into your glass and enjoy!

Step 6 - Serve your cocktail

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