Shaken or stirred? Gin or vodka? Olive or twist? If you feel a tinge of uncertainty when you waltz into the bar to order a martini, you’re not alone. There are as many twists on this classic drink as there are actors who have played James Bond.
According to Google Trends, the martini has been the most searched cocktail in Australia in the past three months and Bourke Street Green Bar Manager Rob Pierce agrees that the martini never goes out of style.
“It’s a popular cocktail in Melbourne. I’d say it’s close to the number-one ordered drink,” says Rob.
The traditional martini cocktail is more than a hundred years old, has only two ingredients (gin and vermouth) and is served in a glamorous V-shaped glass.
But demand for sweeter versions such as the espresso martini is growing and Rob has responded by creating the salted caramel espresso for Club Members who are keen to try something different.
“I created this cocktail because people were wanting different flavours in their traditional cocktails,” says Rob. “Think of your morning coffee and the vanilla, caramel and hazelnut syrups that can be added. People wanted this in espresso martinis, too.”
Unlike its classic counterpart, the espresso martini isn’t that old. According to one story, it originated in the '80s when a woman asked a London bartender for an alcoholic “pick-me-up” with a coffee flavour.
“The espresso martini is not in the classic section yet, but it’s still very popular,” Rob says.
The origin of the classic martini is also mysterious. It could have come from the Martini brand of vermouth. But another theory suggests the cocktail evolved in the early 1860s from a drink called the Martinez, which was served to customers in a San Francisco hotel before they boarded an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez in California.
The best known cultural reference to the martini is British spy James Bond’s infamous order for a martini “shaken not stirred”. Mixologists, such as Rob, are adamant the classic cocktail should be stirred.
“The gin martini is traditionally stirred because if you shake it you will bruise the botanicals in the gin. You can shake a vodka martini, particularly an espresso Martini, because the shaking gives you that crema on top.”
Rob also offers guidance for those Club Members who are unsure about which type of martini to choose.
“If you’re unsure, you have to think about whether you like a dirty martini, which has olive juice in it, or something more citrusy with a lemon twist. If you like dry drinks, then order one with more vermouth, or have it sweeter with a sweeter vermouth.”
You can try the salted caramel martini at home or enjoy a classic martini at Bourke Street Green, which is now open Monday to Friday, 11.30am-9pm. Bookings are not required, but safety measures are in place. For more details, go to bourkestreetgreen.com.au.