Hendrick’s Martini vs Bombay Sapphire Martini
I’ve stated flatly that the best gin was **Bombay Sapphire**. I am willing to drink those words. The [**Sapphire** gin and tonic] is still the top for me; although, [**Hendrick’s** was very close]. But I was completely unprepared for the difference when making the simple, elegant martini. I’m old-school in cocktail preparation, so I don’t avoid the vermouth in a martini, and I only use gin. But because I only stocked **Bombay Sapphire**, I rarely made martinis, and it was only to show how awful they tasted.
The last time I made one, after watching **The Thin Man**, I made sure every ingredient was cold and iced down. I used two cold cocktail olives. I put the glass and the Boston shaker in the freezer. I made a two ounce martini with **Bombay Sapphire** and sipped it. Awful. I could barely finish it before it got above 35° or so. But then it became a chore to sip when it warmed up. My wife could sip it at first, then tasted something like lighter fluid, then an slight olive-y flavor, but she vowed never to drink it again. (To be fair, she didn’t like the **Hendrick’s** version, either.)
The Classic Martini
- 2 oz. gin
- ⅔ oz.dry vermouth
- Martini glass with ice water
- *optional* 2 cocktail olives, or 2 cocktail onions, or a twist of lemon peel, or a thin slice of cucumber
- Two-thirds of an ounce for the vermouth is just an approximation. Basically, it’s vermouth to taste. Pour gin and vermouth into an iced measuring cup, and stir until thoroughly chilled. Why don’t we shake a martini? Shaking adds bubbles. These microscopic bubbles add air into a drink that has a tight balance on how its flavors mingle. Shaking doesn’t [bruise the gin or vermouth], but a shaken martini will affect the flavor. Is that your thing, Mr. Bond? Then go for it.
- Empty the Martini glass of the ice water.
- Strain the gin and vermouth mixture into the chilled [martini glass] with your choice of garnish. Hey? Where’d the drink go? This recipe is for a two- to three-ounce martini. Martini glasses these days hold ten ounces or more. If you’re sure you like what you’re drinking, make it a double. With the vermouth and water from the melted ice, you’ll have a five–six ounce drink in there, which looks less ridiculous. But try the two ounce first.
So my tasting notes on the **Sapphire** martini were: Could drink very cold; could down it like a shot if I had to; would not order another one. The vapor when it warmed up was slightly intoxicating all by itself.
Now that I have the **Hendrick’s**, I was interested to see what difference it would make. I had already noticed that the **Hendrick’s** had a noticeably more citrus-y flavor, and was less floral than **Bombay Sapphire**. When paired with the vermouth, it made for an palatable martini. I could actually drink and enjoy this, even as it warmed up. The olives didn’t add an off flavor, but munching on the olives after finishing my drink, I noted that they had a particularly anise-y flavor. I might try this again with a twist of lemon peel, or a thin slice of cucumber.
For both martinis, I used **Martini & Rossi** *Extra Dry Vermouth*. I have a 350*ml* bottle that I keep refrigerated. Vermouth can be used for cooking, but other than the martini, its uses as a libation are limited. It doesn’t taste very good by itself.
Your wife should try Martin Miller’s. I can drink it neat let alone in a Martini where its super delicious. Us ladies like it smooth remember!
I found out recently that hendricks is artificially flavored. Disappointing but the cucumber is a flavoring added at the end so it’s not a real distilled gin, let alone a London dry gin like Bombay and tanqueray. Nice marketing on the bottle. Seems to be popular.
I did find it odd that it wasn’t labeled as a dry gin. And I agree, adding artificial flavor is disappointing.(See my additional comments below.) I find Tanqueray is all juniper and no subtly, but I prefer craftsmanship over flash, so I may stay away from Hendrick’s in the future. Thanks for the info, John!
Bluey, I look forward to finding some Martin Miller for my wife! Thank you!
Stubled on this post, not sure you check old comments but I have a suggestion for you. I think you did too much preparation when you made the first martini. A major ingredient in a proper martini is water from the melted ice, it ends up being 25-30% of the final mix. By icing all the ingredients I would guess you didn’t get enough dilution from the chilling process. Put room temp ingredients in the shaker then shake it till it’s icey icey cold (and no gin doesn’t bruise) I think you might enjoy it a bit more this way as it mellows out the drink for sure.
For credibility as a reviewer of martinis, you need to get Bulldog on your radar screen. It’s fairly new, so you are excused for now. Also, your recipe is heavy on the vermouth– a small amount swirled around the glass then dumped out, or a 1/4 oz on top of the ice in your shaker, then dumped out before the gin is added, is more than adequate. Here’s some bold olives that Bulldog easily stands up to: http://www.lindsayolives.com/our-products/perfect-pairings/mellow-onion-queen.html — other gins will get lost when garnished with these olives.
Your comment about the smoothness of Hendrick’s is spot on, by the way. Due to an accident or some confusion at a bar while overseas recently (English was not their 1st language), I was served a Hendrick’s martini neat (trace vermouth recipe, garnished with cucumber). It was surprisingly drinkable!
For me, the ultimate Martini is a 4:1 mix of Gordon’s (or any other good London Dry) and Martini and Rossi vermouth, poured over ice and stirred for precisely 40 seconds. The classic James Bond Martini. I know, I know, Gordon’s used to be 100 proof and now it’s only 80 proof. I don’t care. The beauty of this drink is that it doesn’t taste like gin and it doesn’t taste like vermouth. It just tastes clean and crisp and perfect. A most sophisticated, civilized concoction. Hendrick’s is excellent gin, but best saved for other drinks. It’s simply too assertive for a drink as subtle as a Martini.
Thanks J, Mike, and Bob.
Since this post has been written, I’ve found out that London Dry Gin is labeled thus only because it comes from London. Hendricks is from Scotland, and they actually willfully refuse to open a distillery in London so they are not considered a London Dry Gin. I was never able to confirm that they use artificial ingredients, so I’ll believe their own literature which states that they use nothing artificial. They may add the cucumber flavoring at the end, but that’s not uncommon in liquor preparation–anything with raspberry usually has raspberry juice added before bottling. So Hendricks is still a top pick in my book.
Bob, I have Gordon’s now. I’ll have to try your recipe!
Thanks, all, for your comments. Keep them coming!
As a proper Scot, I find Hendricks a marvelous gin when not sipping a single malt. For the traditional martini, I usually find a 4:1 ratio a perfect combination using Martini & Rossi’s vermouth. However, I find the addition of a slice of cucumber a nice garnish, and one that garners interesting comments. Regarding the reference to the James Bond martini, I prefer the use of Hendricks ILO Gordon’s Gin and the Lillet, and of course a terrific vodka (I like Sobieski); a wicked drink. One well chilled will suffice. Both are available on Long Island (New York) at The Brass Rail, a damn good restaurant and bar or at my home.
Thanks for the tips, Jim!
And you’ve metioned Lillet. I plan an article on Lillet, thanks to my wonderful helper, Melba, bringing over a bottle. I quite enjoy it.
I’m sorry, but NO kind of gin martini is a “classic James Bond” martini. Bond drank SHAKEN VODKA martinis, with lemon peel, no olives. The only time gin is mentioned in relation to James Bond is when he invents the “Vesper” in Casion Royale, which contained Gordon’s 100 proof gin, vodka, kina lillet (which is no longer made anywhere on earth) and other ingredients. It really bothers me when people automatically associate any martini recipe with James Bond.
Also, it’s not possible to make a “Vesper” using the original ingredients, because they are no longer in manufacture. It’s all detailed here:
SayntMykl, check out our article on Lillet, which mentions the Bond Vesper. And thanks for your comment!
Mi onny re re pli is – another preese. Hic!
Just tried Hendricks.. It’s very smooth and subtle… The cucumber notes are definitely more present than juniper which is not a bad change of pace. I love Martinis, only gin… Bombay Saphire, Tanqueray… It’s all good to me.. I enjoy the burn. The only bad martini to me is one that’s shaken or watered down. I like it very dry.. If it burns then it burns.
My friend and I did the taste test but only drink gin and tonic. It is however complemented by a cucumber spear and fresh limes. Bombay Saphire is the world champion. Don’t waste your money on the new EAST though !
That’s your problem, Dude. You need better vermouth!