HIGH AND DRY We hail the king of cock­tails.

We hail the king of cock­tails.

The Peak (Singapore) - - Contents - TEXT CHARMIAN LEONG PHO­TOG­RA­PHY TAN WEI TE ART DI­REC­TION & IL­LUS­TRA­TION DENISE REI LOW

For a drink that has only two in­gre­di­ents – gin and ver­mouth – the dry mar­tini’s en­dur­ing legacy is im­pres­sive in­deed. It all be­gan around the mid-1800s, when bar­tenders first no­ticed the po­ten­tial of ver­mouth as a cock­tail com­po­nent. They started mix­ing it with ev­ery­thing, from whisky (cre­at­ing the Man­hat­tan) to brandy (for the lesser-known Metropole), but it was its pair­ing with gin that would even­tu­ally rule over all. And in the hands of the fa­mous, both fic­tional and oth­er­wise, it looked the epit­ome of el­e­gance.

The mar­tini’s sim­plic­ity is its great­est strength. From a bar­tender’s point of view, it’s a true test of skill. “Most of the time, there are only two in­gre­di­ents. You don’t have any­thing to hide be­hind,” says Gio­vanni Grazi­adei, prin­ci­pal bar­tender of Jig­ger & Pony. “The tem­per­a­ture, the di­lu­tion, the qual­ity and ra­tio of the in­gre­di­ents – you can taste all of that in one sip.” For the per­son order­ing one, it shows dis­cern­ment, as pref­er­ence is mir­rored through the choice of gin (Old Tom or Lon­don Dry?) and ver­mouth (fruit-for­ward or herbal?) and how much of each to in­clude. To or­der a mar­tini is to an­nounce that your palate has long since grad­u­ated from cloy­ing dessert-like drinks and that it knows bet­ter than the bar­man what it wants.

Be­yond that, the mar­tini is end­lessly cus­tomis­able, though some­times to its detri­ment. There are far too many cock­tails with the “-tini” suf­fix that have lit­tle re­la­tion to the orig­i­nal, aside from the glass it’s served in. “No mat­ter how you play with a clas­sic mar­tini, it should still be a dry drink with flavours that are clean and sub­tle, and the new flavours should never over­power the two ba­sic in­gre­di­ents,” ad­vises Grazi­adei.

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