The Gin Martini, Bond and Botanicals

23 Oct 2014

The Salone Mixology bar is not your ordinary bar; there is no smoky atmosphere, music, shouting or shoving. The key philosophy here is that of basing what we drink as well as what we eat on quality ingredients that are made in a fair and eco-sustainable way. For Slow Food, read Slow Drink. In order to learn some more about the staples in our drinks cabinet, Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre hosted the Mixology event, “Gin Stories.”


Contrary to popular belief gin’s origins lie not in the UK, but in Holland. The drink is based on Jenever, a juniper-based spirit that subsequently found its way across the channel and became dangerously popular in London. Today there are many different varieties of gin that employ a wide range of botanicals. In order to get an idea of how the choice of botanicals could alter the flavor of the drink we were presented with two variations on the classic Gin Martini.


Was that a gin or vodka Martini? Gin, please! Our master bartender explained that the classic cocktail is the version with gin. The Vodka Martini didn’t appear until the 1960s and was the result of early product placement. Smirnoff had a contract with the James Bond films. They had James Bond unconventionally request his Martini: “shaken and not stirred” as a marketing trick to make it more memorable to audiences.


The Gin Martini is a difficult drink to get right. The traditional recipe calls for three parts gin and one part vermouth but it shouldn’t taste or smell overly alcoholic. Instead it should have a strong and assertive mouthfeel and subsequently leave some warmth in the stomach. The trick to the perfect Gin Martini lies in hiding the alcoholic strength of the drink. This process begins with the careful choice of quality gin and quality vermouth, otherwise it will just taste of alcohol.


Next you need to chill the glass, the gin and the vermouth right down. Chill the glass by filling it with ice before emptying it. Sacrifice a small quantity of vermouth by using it to rinse out any residual melt water from the ice, so nothing can dilute the flavor of your drink.


You want to mix your gin and vermouth by stirring them over ice. The secret here is to use lots and lots of ice. It may seem counter-intuitive but the more ice you use, the less ice melts into the drink, meaning the final flavors are not diluted. Strain the final mixture into your chilled glass.


Now you’re almost there. The next step is to add a twist of lemon peel from an un-waxed lemon. The essential oils will sit on the surface of the drink and mask the flavor of the alcohol. The final touch is a green olive, chilled and steeped in vermouth. This will add flavor will also help hide some of the alcoholic strength of the drink.


In a cocktail so simple, attention to detail is the key. Quality ingredients and careful preparation go a long way. It’s all about the gin. We tried a second version of the same drink using Gin Mare instead of London Dry gin. Gin Mare’s use of Mediterranean scrub plants as botanicals give the final drink a more delicate, rounded and less dry flavor. The lemon basil and oregano in the gin are mouthwatering, making it an ideal aperitif!


Mixology will be running a series of events over the next few days here at Salone, and represents a slightly new departure for Slow Food. It seeks to improve our appreciation of drinks and promote Slow Food values among consumers at the bar and not just the market.


An idea we can all raise a glass to.


Blog & news

Change the world through food

Learn how you can restore ecosystems, communities and your own health with our RegenerAction Toolkit.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Full name
Privacy Policy