Look, I don't have to tell you why this drink is the King of Cocktails. There have been whole books written about it, by people who drink a lot more of them than I have, and who have much more clever things to say about them than I do. If you don't know, you better ask somebody. All I'm gonna tell you is that if you have a martini to hand, you're smarter, you're funnier, you're better-looking, and you're a joy to be around.
I have heard it said, by actual human beings with mouths attached to their brains, that they do not like this or that jernt's martini because it is "too strong". This makes no sense to me, because a martini is all liquor. There is nothing in it for the liquor to be stronger than. If you don't want a strong drink, don't order a martini. But if you do -- and you should -- there are a few musts. I am not snobbish about martinis in some ways; I'm perfectly happy with gimmicky fauxtinis, and in fact there will be many of them in this space in the future. But if you're making a real martini, which I suggest you do at least once a week to keep body and mind running smoothly, it must be made with gin (Bombay Sapphire is the only kind for me, and that's bet), it must be served in a cocktail glass, it must be shaken and not stirred -- shaking a gin martini agitates the molecules and brings out the flavor of the herbs -- and it must be coooooooooooooooooold.
I take my silver bullet very dry (8:1 gin/vermouth ratio). Any more vermouth is too 'winey' and detracts from the spicy, lemony, super-crisp flavor of the gin. It can be drier, but I don't cotton to this "walk the gin through a room where someone who held a sealed bottle of vermouth once stood" bullshit. If you wanna drink gin, drink gin -- even more than a martini or Scotch & water, straight Bombay Sapphire on ice is far and away my favorite drink. But can the pseudomystical one-liners and just do it, already. You can be funny after. Martinis can be tricky out; they're often not as cold as they should be, and people never know what proportion you like best. I've had some fantastic martinis in bars, but they're never as good as the ones I make at home, and this one was a killer -- even with the slight oily residue on the surface I got (probably from using a feta-stuffed olive, the only kind I had in the house), it was pure and cool and perfect and went down like an enthusiastic sophomore. (By the way, I'm in favor of the olive in a martini instead of the lemon peel or other garnish; it carries the weight of tradition, it makes it more iconic, and you get the little treat at the end of getting to eat the olive: it's like, mmmm, tasty cocktail. And hey, dinner!)
"When I have one martini," said Big Bill Faulkner, "I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have the second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there's no holding me." Of course, the martinis helped kill him. But what a way to go!
The Recipe: 1/2 oz. dry vermouth; 4 oz. gin. Agitate thoroughly in a frosted, ice-filled cocktail shaker and serve in a cocktail glass immediately. Garnish with olive.