What makes the perfect Martini?

The Dorset Martini

The Dorset Martini - Credit: Archant

A perfect martini requires just two ingredients – gin and vermouth – or does it?

Debate rages over what makes a ‘proper’ martini. Do you use vodka instead of gin? How dry? How cold? Shaken or stirred?

If you look to the ultimate martini drinker – 007 James Bond - then you’ll find he has a foot in both camps when it comes to gin or vodka. Yes he likes a vodka martini, shaken not stirred – but if we’re being authentic it is the Vesper Martini which appears in Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel Casino Royale. Named after Vesper Lynd, the only woman Bond really had any feelings for, its ingredients are three measures of Gordon’s gin, one of vodka and half a measure of Kina Lillet (an aromatic and bitter French aperitif wine similar to vermouth) shaken until ice-cold and served in a deep champagne goblet with a large slice of lemon-peel. It’s a super rocket fuelled martini that would have put 007 into rehab before you could say “We’ve been expecting you Mr Bond.”

However, shaking the bejesus out of a martini potentially, in some people’s opinion, ruins it. All those lovely botanical notes in the gin, not to mention the delicate herbal qualities of the vermouth get smashed up and diluted with the ice. British novelist, playwright and martini connoisseur Somerset Maugham declared that “Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously on top of each other” – ideally carefully stirred for half a minute so all those complex notes caress each other like Bond seducing a beautiful spy from SMERSH.

Localise your Martini

Conker Spirit: Dorset Dry Gin

Created by Rupert Holloway, Conker Spirit is a Dorset dry gin created in small batches at Conker HQ in Southbourne. Classic juniper, coriander seed, angelica, orris, cassia and Seville orange are livened up with lime peel which adds a crisp, almost dry sweetness. The botanicals get a Dorset twist from dried samphire, elderberries and hand-picked New Forest gorse. No wonder it won Drinks Product of the Year in the Dorset Magazine Food, Drink & Farming Awards.


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Pothecary Gin

A relatively new British blended gin that won double gold at the globally renowned San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It’s created in Christchurch by Lukasz Dwornik and Martin Jennings who share a passion for organic, handcrafted, artisan produce. The five botanical elements are distilled separately, and then blended. These are Provençal lavender, which brings savoury notes, Anatolian black mulberries, which have a sweet, jammy taste, tilia flowers foraged in Poland, which lend a honey tone, juniper and Sicilian lemon.


And for a Vodka Martini

Black Cow: British Pure Milk Vodka

Jason Barber, a west Dorset dairy farmer, creates this legendary vodka from the milk of his grass grazed herd. The curds make Barber’s 1833 Cheese and Black Cow Deluxe Cheddar and the whey is transformed into this exceptionally smooth creamy vodka.


Liberty Fields Porter’s Perfection Vodka

Porter’s Perfection, a deep red heritage apple, gives this interesting new Dorset vodka, launched in May, a clean and refreshing flavour – like the first bite of a crisp apple.


Two top BH gin spots

The Ventana Bar, Bournemouth

Situated at The Cumberland on East Overcliff Drive, this stylish bar has its own Gin Menu featuring gins selected for their specific botanical notes including Tanqueray Ten (citrusy and full bodied), Hendricks (cucumber), The Botanist (citrus, delicate menthols and flowers) and Bathtub (juniper, orange peel, coriander, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom).


The Gin House, Wimborne Minster

This fabulous speakeasy-style cocktail bar, recently opened in the back of a former paint shop on West Borough, offers 130 different gins from around the world. Friendly, knowledgeable staff will direct you to the ones that will suit your palate.


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