Stirred not shaken, gin not vodka, and hold the olives

The Perfect Martini

Everybody knows that James Bond is an indestructible secret agent, but according to expert mixologist Stuart Bale, James has a thing or two to learn about making the perfect martini.


‘This is wrong’, explains Bale. ‘Shaking cools the drink, but it will leave it watery. To enjoy the flavours of a gin martini, stirring is the only way.’

‘A perfect martini should taste like ‘exquisite water’. The most difficult aspect of mixing a martini is getting the balance between the flavours in each spirit, and actual alcohol.’


Gin has a complexity of structure that balances out the vermouth, which vodka does not. With Bond adding vodka to his martini—and diluting it with shaken ice—the flavour was being masked. ‘Using a gin, such as Gin Mare with it’s unusual flavour profile, opens up an array of notes not possible in a vodka martini’, says Stuart.


In the long-awaited new Bond film Spectre, James is forced to order his martini dirty. But Stuart tells us not to settle for what’s at the bottom of an olive jar to accompany a martini.

Adding a marinated or stuffed olive will mask the flavour of the spirit base of the martini, another reason not to include when looking to enjoy the flavours of a craft gin you’ve ordered. Bale explains, ‘It has long been known that salt works as a flavour enhancer. For the ultimate martini experience add a drop or two of salt solution, releasing the flavours without masking the taste.’


That is the question. Although it’s a complete no using an olive, that’s not to say there isn’t a more suitable garnish for a martini. With a softer, sweeter flavour, a whole strawberry or twist of lemon or orange can particularly complement the gin base of the cocktail.


Favouring Gin Mare’s unusual Mediterranean botanicals of Arbequina Olive, Thyme, Rosemary and Basil, Stuart has blended ‘the perfect martini’:


  • 50ml Gin Mare
  • 25ml Lillet Blanc
  • 0.5ml salt solution (20g sea salt, dissolved in 100ml water)
  • 1 small whole strawberry


Add all ingredients to a metal mixing tin filled with ice. Stir for between 20 – 30 seconds, until the drink is chilled and diluted appropriately. Taste using a straw, until ready and strain into a chilled, stemmed or coupe cocktail glass. Garnish with half a strawberry on a cocktail stick.

Or, if you’re out and about in London, Stuart’s perfect martini will be available exclusively at The Shrub & Shutter, Brixton.

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