Cocktails do not consist of more than one part fruit juice. I’m sorry, but they simply don’t. If you’re sitting at a bar now and resting before you is a large glass containing pineapple juice, lumps of fruit impaled on a stick, some undefined crystals around the brim, a shot of tequila and, in all probability, a miniature paper parasol painted in gay colours by an underfed child in the developing world – then what you have is a mocktail.

Oh, and you probably have a straw too. You can throw that away right now.

I’m not saying fruit juices have no place in a cocktail; there are several examples of fine and distinguished libations for which juice is an essential – the Sidecar springs to mind – nor am I only a regressive old bastard who refuses to recognise change. I am a regressive old bastard, but not only that. I recognise the skill of a good barkeep, and enjoy sampling the fresh harvests of their imagination; they do great things on the Prairie Oyster theme at The Bar with No Name in Islington, for instance.

But ultimately the old bastard in me comes to the surface, and I’ve never found a new cocktail to compare with a properly made Negroni, Pink Gin, Old Fashioned, French 75 or of course the one true king, the cock in cocktail: the Dry Martini.

I won’t linger here, because the question of how to make a good Dry Martini has no simple answer and I suspect I’ll be returning to this subject in future. Ad nauseam. Suffice to say that being delivered in a triangular profiled glass does not mean your drink is any form of Martini whatsoever.

But if your Martini anxiety is getting the better of you, have Tom Lehrer‘s recipe as a primer: six parts gin to one part vermouth. And never, ever, on pain of being forced to listen to Guns’n’Roses in perpetuity, shake it.

Buy me a drink and I’ll tell you some lies


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