Poetry in a Glass: The Classic Martini

Poetry in a Glass: The Classic Martini

Here is a small tribute to the fun, flavor and celebration of drinking, from the English theologian and philosopher Henry Aldrich (1647 - 1710):

Reasons For Drinking

If all be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink:
Good wine -- a friend -- or being dry --
O lest we should be by and by --
Or any other reason why.

With thank to A.J. Rathbun, Editor of In Their Cups: An Anthology of Poems About Drinking Places, Drinks and Drinkers (Harvard Common Press, 2010).

If such poetry inspires, here is how to make a classic dry martini. This formula makes two 4-ounce martinis in your choice of gin, which many consider the true classic, or my preference, vodka.


1 tablespoon dry vermouth (store at room temperature; its fragile herbs and spices can deteriorate if chilled for too long)
8 ounces chilled vodka or gin (I keep my vodka in the freezer)
2 large caper berries with their stems or brine-cured green olives stuffed with pimentos (I always add 3 olives per glass)
Ice cubes


2 stemmed martini glasses, chilled
1 or 2 cup glass measuring cup, chilled
Cocktail shaker

  1. If your martini glasses aren't already chilled or frosted by keeping them in your freezer, fill each of them with a few ice cubes while you mix the martinis. Pouring a cold cocktail into a cold glass helps keep the drink cold longer.
  2. Pour the dry vermouth into the empty measuring cup and swirl to coat the insides. Discard the vermouth.
  3. Pour the gin or vodka into the measuring cup.
  4. Fill a cocktail shaker with about 2 cups of ice cubes. Pour in the vermouth-tinged gin or vodka, cover the shaker, and shake hard until the shaker and everything in it is ice cold, about 30 seconds or until your arm gets tired.
  5. If you've put ice cubes in your martini glasses, discard the ice.
  6. Pour the mixed cocktail into the chilled glasses and add the caper berries or olives.
  7. Serve immediately.

And as you raise your glass, remember this martini wisdom from the great James Thurber: "One is alright. Two is too many. Three is not enough."




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