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 350ml 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.