Bert Christensen's Weird & Different Recipes
The Perfect Martini
From Louise Ripley

The three keys to the perfect martini are excellent gin (my personal favourite is Beefeaters), ice cold ingredients and receptacles, and panache in preparing and serving, including glasses (and pitcher if you use one) of the finest crystal (my preference is Waterford). On a boat on the Nile River in Egypt, with my good friend Ellen Rubert, I once ordered a martini. The waiters were confused, partly because martini overseas means the brand name of vermouth, so I finally asked them to just bring me a glass of gin. Soon there arrived at my table a small clear glass jelly jar with an ounce of warm gin in the bottom! This is NOT how to serve a martini (although all the rest of the trip was great!).

Keep the gin bottle and the Waterford crystal glasses always in the freezer (you never know when you will have the kind of day that will require a martini and you want to be prepared). Keep the olives in the refrigerator; I prefer as large an olive as possible, one or two – the Queen-size are nice, or even better is one called the Elephant, and while the traditional pimento adds a nice colour, an interesting and different stuffing can add extra panache. Also in the refrigerator, always keep a pristine Waterford perfume atomizer, never having been used for perfume, filled with Martini and Rossi white vermouth. When the need for a martini arises, remove the Waterford crystal glasses from the freezer onto an elegant sterling silver serving tray, and, working quickly, pour the almost texturized gin from the bottle into each glass. Drop in the olive and spray just a spritz of vermouth over the top of each glass (do this with just the right twist of the wrist). Serve immediately with a flourish. Do not use a toothpick for the olive as it disturbs the tranquility and unbroken one-ness of the surface where the vermouth settles into the gin.

This, to me, is what the martini is all about: grace, style, panache, simplicity, elegance – leading to a relaxation that comes not only from the powerful wallop rendered by the undiluted alcoholic content, but also from the feeling of being worthy of being treated with such care and tenderness as it takes to present this drink in the proper manner, whether one is serving it to a lone drinker in a bar, to a party of twenty in one’s home, or just to oneself after a hard day at work.

Then there is the recipe of Liam O'Dell's uncle, who loved trout fishing as well as martinis. First thing in the morning, leave your trailer (with hydro) parked beside a clear, fresh mountain stream full of trout. Pour four ounces of excellent vermouth into the water, walk a kilometer downstream, gather water from the stream and make ice cubes with it. Return to your campsite and spend the day trout fishing. When the cocktail hour comes, put some of the ice cubes you made earlier in the day into a glass, fill the glass with gin, and enjoy.

However you make your martini, good gin, ice cold ingredients, and some panache in the serving are imperative. I was aghast, nay, horrified, no, there is not a word strong enough to convey how I felt when restaurants and bars began a while ago to list on their menus so-called “martinis” with ingredients like chocolate, blueberry, cream, and liqueurs. I had my first martini at the age of two, grew up sipping them from my grandfather’s glass, and have made them often during my many years. There is a proper way to fix a martini.

Collected by Bert Christensen
Toronto, Ontario