Sunday, July 8, 2012

Packed With Style: The Martini

50 years ago, James Bond first hit the big screen in “Dr. No,” and a style icon was born.  Over 22 movies, 007 has inspired millions of men with his dress (from his Anthony Sinclair suits to his latest Tom Ford tuxedo), his watches (Bond wore a Rolex and Bronson an Omega), his cars (he has wrecked almost every style of Aston Martin), his women (from Vesper Lynd to Pussy Galore), and, of course, his swagger.  But no matter whether Connery, Moore, Lazenby, Dalton, Brosnan, or Craig, two things remain consistent: Bond always arrives in style, and he always orders his signature drink—a martini.

To ensure that you will remain dapper while on your mission (or vacation, whichever the case), you need to pack your bag correctly in order to protect your clothes and keep them wrinkle-free when you arrive.  An under-packed suitcase leaves too much room for clothes to shift, which creates wrinkles, and an over-packed one also produces creases and wrinkles.  But when your contents are carefully folded and arranged, your clothes will arrive wrinkle-free and pressed, allowing you to continue to look your best away from home.

The first order of business is to choose a stylish piece of luggage.  While a ubiquitous black roller is fine for an extended vacation (they are practical and easy to travel with), a weekend trip requires a manly leather or canvas duffle bag.  This is an investment piece, so spend as much as comfortably fits your budget (Louis Vuitton and Tod’s make great high-end bags for those who can afford it, but Kenneth Cole and Banana Republic make some equally stylish, more affordable versions).

Next, prepare your clothes for packing.  Stuff socks and rolled boxers in your shoes, which will simulate the support of a shoe tree, and place the shoe in a felt shoe bag, which will protect the shoe and help maintain its polish.  Have your dress shirts professionally folded in a dry cleaner’s plastic bag.  Fold your jeans in half with one leg over the other, and roll them starting at the cuff.  Fold your jacket or blazer lengthwise in thirds, inside out, taking care to push the shoulders through while making sure the sleeves meet each other inside.

Start packing by placing your shoes around the sides of the bag, which will protect your clothes like a moat.  Next lay your dress pants in the bag, leaving them open with the legs out until everything else goes in (and then fold them on top to protect against wrinkles).  Place your heavier items (like your leak-proof dopp kit) on top of the pants, surrounded by your rolled jeans, rolled belts, rolled cashmere sweaters, bathing suit, and folded t-shirts.  On top of those go your dress shirts.  Now fold the dress pant leg on top.  Finally, on top of your bag, place your folded jacket/blazer on top.  That way, when you arrive at your destination, you can easily get to it and hang it up quickly without having to unpack your entire bag.  And don’t forget to pack an extra plastic bag in case you need to bring a wet article of clothing back with you.

When you arrive at your destination, you should order Bond’s signature cocktail, but not the way he orders it.  While Bond orders his martinis “shaken, not stirred,” you should not.  When a cocktail is shaken, the drink becomes aerated with tiny air bubbles and a thin layer of miniscule ice chips forms on top.  By stirring the drink, which should be done to all cocktails that contain predominantly alcohol, you ensure that no head of ice chips or bubbles will form, and the cocktail will feel silky-smooth in your mouth.  Thus, while the taste of a cocktail is not affected by shaking versus stirring, the feel of the cocktail is, and a martini should be heavy and silky on the tongue, not bubbly.

Additionally, over the last several years, the trend is to make a martini bone dry by using less and less vermouth, to the point where it is just a glass of cold gin with an olive floating in it.[1] While I agree that you want just a kiss of vermouth in a martini, the cocktail is not correct without this key ingredient.  Therefore, to make the perfect martini, with just the right amount of vermouth, follow this version:

3 oz. Plymouth Gin (save the Hendricks and Bombay Sapphire, which both have a lot of botanicals, for a different cocktail)
1 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 dash orange bitters (optional)
Lemon rind (or olives if you prefer)

***Place several large ice cubes in a mixing glass.  Pour in the vermouth and stir for at least 10 rotations, covering the ice cubes and the sides of the glass.  Strain out the vermouth, leaving only the vermouth-soaked cubes.

Pour the gin over the ice and shake in a dash of orange bitters.  Stir for at least 25 rotations, allowing enough time for the gin to soak in the vermouth and chill.  Strain into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with the lemon twist or a skewer of olives. 

While you may not have a license to kill (or do you?), no one has to know that.  Keep them wondering by channeling your inner-Bond with these tips.  Happy Birthday, Commander Bond.

[1] This table evidences the point:
DRY:  4:1 ratio
VERY DRY:  8:1 ratio
EXTREMELY DRY:  Add one eyedrop of vermouth to the shaker.
VERY EXTREMELY DRY:  Squeeze an atomizer of vermouth once into shaker.
BONE DRY:  Run a vermouth-wetted finger around the rim of the glass.
SUPERLATIVELY DRY:  Open a bottle of vermouth, set it down on the windowsill, and mix the drink on the other side of the room.
MAXED-OUT DRY:  Physically remove vermouth bottle from the premises.


  1. I like strawberries with the sugar, add the vodka and tequila, i like made your recipe at my home, under your guidance i make such great dish, thank for sharing blog.

  2. Thanks for reading. And I agree, strawberries are a great addition to any cocktail.