THE VERMOUTH PRO: Giorgio Bava, Cocchi
What does a martini mean for you?
A martini cocktail can be the start or the end of a great evening. Sometimes it’s an energiser to keep the party going, but it can also be the warming, calming ‘last one’ before jumping in a cab home. It’s a powerful cocktail that never goes unnoticed.
Where did you discover it?
At the Savoy, when the American Bar’s head bartender at the time, Erik Lorincz, convinced my father to produce a unique dry vermouth for the signature ‘Savoy Martini’.
What makes difference between a good martini and a great martini?
High-quality ingredients and temperature. Since you’re using a higher proportion of it, the gin (or vodka) must be excellent, but never underestimate the role of vermouth, especially if mixed with vodka, which will make its quality even more visible. I also believe that temperature makes a great difference – who likes a warm cup of white spirit?
Which ingredients do you use in yours?
At Cocchi, we spent more than two years developing the Cocchi Savoy Dry Vermouth, and I love it. It’s a deep and complex product, with intense floral notes and a pleasant Alpine herb freshness. I’m also partial to the historical and niche Chazalettes & Co Extra Dry Vermouth, for its mineral and citrusy body. For the spirits, I tend to choose the purity and mouthfeel of Beluga Noble Russian Vodka or the juniper notes of Boatyard Double Gin.
Do you tend to go gin or vodka?
Usually I go gin – I can’t say no to the botanical notes of a very wet gin martini. But I find great pleasure in a vodka martini when all the ingredients are extremely high quality.
Any secret tips?
Get a better vermouth and use more of it. It will make the martini richer and more flavoursome – and slightly lower the ABV, so you can have a couple more…
How do you serve it?
I like to stir my martini, and serve half of it in a small, chilled coupette, and keep the other half in a small bottle in the freezer or an ice bucket. I always love it as cold as possible. My garnish of choice is a lemon peel, ideally from unwaxed Amalfi lemons. Refreshing and intense.
When do you tend to drink one?
I tend to order a martini in the late evening, usually in winter, while chatting with friends in a wood-panelled bar.
GIORGIO’S ULTIMATE MARTINI
This is an ‘improved’ martini, with a touch of sweetness to round out the flavours. Bitters adds a kick of hop bitterness and revs up the citrus aromas of the gin. And a spot of absinthe is always an improver.
- 2oz of Fifty Pounds gin
- ¾ oz of dry vermouth
- ¼ oz of Cocchi Americano
- 3 drops of Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
- A spray of absinthe
- Spray your glass (or rinse) with absinthe.
- Stir remaining ingredients and strain.
- Express grapefruit zest over the top.