The Smoky Martini is a widespread twist on the classic Martini recipe bartenders have been serving since the 70s.
In an interview, even legendary bartender Dale DeGroff confirmed that he served Smoky Martinis regularly during this time. So let's have a closer look at the drink:
Ingredients of the Smoky Martini
The twist on a Dry Gin Martini does not in fact replace the Gin but the Dry Vermouth with peated Islay Scotch. It also changes the ratios because smoky Scotch has considerably more flavor than a Dry Vermouth. After all, you don't want to overpower the Gin completely:
- The Scotch: Making a great Scotch Martini is not about being a top bartender. Here, using the right, high-quality ingredients is key, and the type of Scotch is crucial. Use a blended Scotch like Dewar’s for your standard serve, or go all in with a truly peaty Scotch like Laphroaig or even Lagavulin 16 makes for a distinctively smoky taste.
- The Gin: As Gin is the main ingredient in this cocktail, is just as important. With so many types of Gin, it can be hard to decide. In a Martini, a Dry Gin or London Dry Gin is always a good choice. For a Smoky Martin, my favorites are Rutte Dry Gin and Botanist Gin. Especially if you want to make the cocktail all Scottish, opt for the Botanist. This Gin is from Islay, just like the Whiskies from Laphroaig and Lagavulin.
The taste of drink
The Smoky Martini is richer and more flavorful than a classic Dry Martini. The addition of Scotch not only adds a smoky note to the drink but adds depth and sophistication to the cocktail.
Using the right ratios of peated Islay Scotch and Gin, the smoky notes of the Whisky harmonize beautifully with botanicals in Gin.
The perfect ratio
A typical recommendation for a Dry Martini is 5 parts Gin and 1 part Dry Vermouth. However, applying the same ratio in a Smoky Martini would ruin the drink for most drinkers.
Peated Scotch should be used carefully in mixed drinks in general; - in a Martini, it's even more important. With just two ingredients, the balance has to be just right.
I recommend using 0.5 parts of Scotch per 5 parts Gin. That is half the amount of Dry Vermouth and, trust me, it's enough in this case.
The history of the Smoky Martini
Smoky Martinis have been a frequent serve, at least since the 70s. However, there is an indication that the drink could be significantly older.
The novel Harlot’s Ghost, based on a real-life character, suggests that the main character, CIA Agent William King Harvey, drank such a concoction already in the 1950s.
As CIA Agent Harvey was running an operation in West Berlin at the beginning of the 1950s, the drink was named the Berlin Station Chief (at least in the book). Yet, there is no proof that the drink existed in real life back then.
- 1 Jigger
- 2.5 oz Dry Gin
- 0.25 oz Peated Scotch
- Lemon peel or olives (for garnish)
- Pour Gin and Scotch into a Mixing glass filled with ice.2.5 oz Dry Gin, 0.25 oz Peated Scotch
- Stir until the drink with your bar spoon for 18 - 20 seconds until it is well-chilled, then strain into a Martini glass.
- Garnish with a lemon peel or twist.Lemon peel or olives (for garnish)
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