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Simon Ford Deconstructs The Mysteries Of The Martini

on 18/08/12 at 3:41 pm


When it comes to cocktails, Simon Ford is the guy to know. After earning a Wine and Spirits Education Certificate in the UK, he went on to work for Seagrams and now holds the heady title of Global Spirits & Cocktail Brand Expert for Pernod Ricard USA. For real, it’s on his business card. In Simon’s weekly column, Drink Ford Tough, he tells you everything you ever needed to know about the art of the cocktail. And how to drink better.

The martini is a very personal drink that, despite its simplicity, can be ordered in a variety of ways. Every American I stand behind in Starbucks knows exactly what elaborate custom coffee drink he wants, and how he wants it. So if you think of ordering a martini the same way you would order your coffee, you’ll be in good shape.

The martini is a very pure cocktail that consists of two main ingredients. A base spirit of gin or vodka and vermouth—with the option of two supporting acts: bitters and your garnish. The original martini recipes always feature gin and mostly contained bitters (orange being the most common). Boy, have times changed.

Gin vs. Vodka
It’s really important to specify what spirit you want when ordering a martini. If you go to a classic bar, they’ll most likely give you gin. But a more contemporary bar will probably give you vodka. For the most part, I’ll drink a gin martini because I feel that gin pairs with vermouth better. But every now and then a good clean vodka martini is a nice treat. When you’re first experimenting with martinis, you should switch between various spirit brands to find the ones you really like. Since this is such a pure cocktail, the gin and vodka that you choose will become the star of the drink. So you better pick wisely.