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Best Classic Dry Martini in London?

HalMac Aug 13, 2010 02:18 AM

Just moved from LA to London and having no luck finding a good dry martini, just good gin, with only the tiniest hint of vermouth. Can't find anywhere here that knows how to make something that's not full of 5000 ridiculous mixers. Help! Thanks :) Hal (if it comes with good steak, even better)

  1. t
    t_g Aug 13, 2010 03:39 AM

    milk and honey's the best i've had, but then again i'm not huge on the whole 'tiny amount of vermouth' school. i'm more of a 4:1 ratio guy

    3 Replies
    1. re: t_g
      l
      LotsC Aug 13, 2010 04:28 AM

      Duke's Hotel on St James's Place, simply the best I've come across in London. Surely you need a good bottle of red to go with that steak though??

      1. re: LotsC
        HalMac Aug 20, 2010 01:19 AM

        thanks! Well yes maybe a red with the steak, but you know, a very dry martini and a fine steak is a great combination :) One of the best in LA is Taylors; even Sinatra went there

        1. re: LotsC
          greedygirl Aug 20, 2010 02:23 AM

          Duke's is the best in London, definitely. You might also get a good one at Rules, in the simply marvellous (but pricey) cocktail bar upstairs.

      2. a
        archmon Aug 20, 2010 07:55 AM

        Absolutely the Dukes...and watch how they add the twist of lemon at the end.

        1. t
          themags Aug 20, 2010 08:06 AM

          Can anyone vouch for Hawksmoor's martinis? I went there and had a steak the size of my head and a great cosmo - hey that's chicks for you :-)

          Many many years ago I used to bartend in NYC and a regular taught me me the classic dry martini method - take martini glass, spray with soda water/seltzer from the gun, empty and place glass in freezer for a minute. Glass comes out perfectly frosted. Add a splash of vermouth, swirl around glass and discard. Large hand pour measure of gin (in those days Bombay Sapphire) + olive.

          1. g
            Gareth_UK Aug 20, 2010 08:15 AM

            Absolutely second the 'Dukes' recommendations. Costs a fortune but it worth it just to see how the smallest number of ingredients coupled with a minimalist economy of technique can combine to make alchemy!

            Also worth a thought is 69 Colbrooke Row who do a "dry" Martini whereby the dryness of the martini is supplemented with a drop or two of tannin extract made by crushing grape pips in the 'lab' upstairs. An interesting riff on a classic which delivers an intelligent variation without abusing the point of the drink.

            Finally, can I secong t_g ? Very recently I discover that a "Dry Martini" is named that way simply because it was made with French (dry vermouth) rather than the Italian (sweet vermouth) that was the stock in trade at the time. The original recipies call for something like half and half. This has led me on a recent blitz-mission to start to ask for proper amounts of vermouth to be put into my martinis, in turn triggering a re-appraisal as to whether the "very dry" drinks I've been demanding all these years were really anything more than an affectation. Perhaps we have become simply fetishistic about the whole 'dryness' thing, doing it as a kind of cocktail-snobbery/machismo, and it's time to reintroduce ourselves to martinis as a vermouth-based drink and, if we do simply want to drink an ice-cold glass of gin, at least call it for it is.

            Gareth

            3 Replies
            1. re: Gareth_UK
              c
              chochotte Aug 20, 2010 04:47 PM

              I'm absolutely with you on that! It's all a matter of personal choice and if people don't like to taste much vermouth then that's certainly not wrong, but yes, I've read the same thing about the origin of the name 'dry' martini, and if I just want gin I order gin on the rocks, but surely the point of a martini is to taste both the gin AND the Martini?

              Cos... I think Martini is yummy!

              1. re: chochotte
                t
                t_g Aug 21, 2010 02:45 AM

                haha good work guys! yeah i think the whole 'just look in the direction of vermouth' thing is kinda played out + a lil 90s. vermouth is nice! it's not a cocktail if yr just tasting 1 ingredient.

                1. re: t_g
                  h
                  helen b Feb 19, 2011 02:24 AM

                  If it's any help, I just had The Perfect Dirty Martini at Rules. It's a gorgeous bar, feels a bit 'in the know'. Made with Ketel and two whole spoons of the olive brine. Very smooth. So smooth in fact I had to have another ;)

                  Boyf had a G&T with Berry Bros London 3, which was exceptionally clean. And the bartender, while I was wating for boyf, gave me the dregs of the Bloody Mary he was mixing for another table to try - one for the future as it was lovely, and as is proper had the kick of raw horseradish.

                  My new pre-theatre spot. Only annoyance is they stop serving bar snacks after 5pm. Weirdness.

            2. b
              brokentelephone Feb 19, 2011 06:38 AM

              I love the Dukes martini (it was the first martini I ever tried), and still go there often for drinks.

              I actually went to the Connaught bar (the one with the 'best bartender in the world') and had an amazing classic dry, as well as one with a bit of bitters (they have about 10 different bitters on offer -- from orange to lavender).

              1 Reply
              1. re: brokentelephone
                d
                dustbuddy Feb 22, 2011 01:05 AM

                I would agree with that the martini made at the connaught bar is excellent. Everything is prepared in front of you (whether or not you are at the bar itself) as they bring the trolley of mixers to your table and mix it to your preference.

              2. h
                hazelhurst Feb 19, 2011 07:08 AM

                My, how times change. I've had both Duke's and Rules martinis and they have been perfectly fine but when I first went to London as a boy in the 1960's, my father and his American associates all swore by the American Bar at the Savoy. As an adult it has always been my Old Reliable for a "proper martini" and decent ice. Was last there a couple of years ago and it was dandy. I also love the view out of the "picture window."

                1. m
                  mrs bacon Mar 20, 2011 08:43 AM

                  The bar at the Connaught (the one in front) makes absolutely excellent cocktails of all kinds. I'm sure they would make your dry martini just fine. That said, couldn't you just ask for a big glass of cold gin?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mrs bacon
                    HalMac Mar 21, 2011 04:33 AM

                    Very useful all, thanks. I must say though, it is tough to get a good dry martini in London, so much easier in LA.

                    1. re: HalMac
                      m
                      MrManners Mar 28, 2011 05:19 AM

                      Ha! In the early 80's I was a 19-year old barman at a lovely old riverside pub in Twickenham. Some Americans pounded up the steps and gasped for dry martinis: 'Everywhere we go they give us a glass of vermouth...!' I improvised, having read about the basics and they stayed for lunch. A few years later I went to work in the US and learned to appreciate the casual beauty of the martini. If vodka and Coke is detente in a glass, the martini is the perfect fusion of the old world and the new: English reserve, Italian loquacity and American refrigeration.

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