Three Ways To Shake Up Your Martini
Illustration by Ms Anje Jager
Mixologist Mr Dustin MacMillan from Hix Mark’s Bar shares his tips for pepping up your cocktail.
On a recent trip to Mr Mark Hix’s new restaurant Pharmacy 2, set on the first floor of Mr Damien Hirst’s south London-based Newport Street Gallery, a member of the MR PORTER team – who shall remain anonymous for the time being – had something of a spiritual (and, yes, spirit-based) moment upon ordering a martini. Mr Hix, it turns out, likes to serve up this king of cocktails not only with various fun embellishments (such as a green chilli or a twist of lemon), but with a refill on the side, served in a miniature milk bottle resting on a stack of ice cubes. The revelation? There’s only one thing better than a martini at the end of a long day – two of them.
So, given that the thing to do now seems to be to double up, we thought it our responsibility to learn how to add a little bit of variety to James Bond’s favourite cocktail. We asked Mr Dustin MacMillan, creative head of bars at Mr Hix’s Mark’s Bars, for a list of ingredients you can throw into your cocktail shaker to shoot your martini game into the stratosphere this spring. Just pace yourself, please – this trend is certainly a jolly one but not an excuse to throw caution to the wind.
“Adding the brine – along with the seeds and other detritus – from pickle jars to your martini is not for everyone, but it can add a lot of flavour. You can make a ‘dirty martini’ with the brine from olives, or my favourite: hot pickled peppers. Try saying that five times in a row after a drinking session.”
“Add 70ml vodka or gin and 15ml brine to a large glass. Add cubed ice and stir with a long spoon – ideally for about 15-20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve whatever was soaking in your selected brine on the side. A bit of cheese never goes amiss, either.”
“Mark Hix taught me this one. We have made it a few times while hosting parties in the library hidden at the back of Tramshed. This works well because port and chocolate are go-to flavours at this time of night.”
“Pour 70ml vodka, 5ml Crème de Cacao, and 10ml white port into a glass. Any will do – it’s that stage of the evening where details become less important. Stir well, and then garnish the drink with a chocolate flake. To make this, get a knife, a block of chocolate, and scrape off a thin curl.”
“Some ingredients seem to work perfectly together – and this is a delicious example of such harmony. We are aiming for a visually clean drink with all the bold flavours of a beloved summer classic.”
“Pour 70ml gin and 5ml green chartreuse into a tall glass. Add a pinch of fresh thyme and two sage leaves. Then stir and double strain. Rub some grapefruit zest around the rim of the glass to allow it to release its essential oils. With the spirits and fresh produce, the resulting taste is very herbal.”