The Martini: A Wolseley favourite

“I would like to observe the vermouth from across the room while I drink my martini” – Winston Churchill famously enjoyed a Martini. And when asked how much vermouth he wanted in his drink, he replied with these words, creating a ‘Churchill Martini’ in the process.

A tipple for the ages, the origins of the Martini are a tale as old as time. Here at The Wolseley, it’s becoming something of a house favourite. We spoke to our Bar Manager, Cesar Goncalves, to find out more.

While many lay claim to the Martini, its origins remain uncertain. The modern version is often cited as being a derivative of the Martinez cocktail, which you can find on our cocktail menu. As for the Martini itself, we offer it served with a twist or olives – or indeed, whichever way you prefer to indulge.

We sat down with our Bar Manager, Cesar Goncalves, to find out a little more about this iconic cocktail and his tips for creating the perfect serve…

What do you think makes the perfect Martini – and what’s your favourite way to drink a Martini?

A Martini is a very personal thing… it’s up to the individual’s taste. The way it is made is crucial and we do a few things here at The Wolseley, which I think makes for the most enjoyable Martini.

The glassware is super important, we use classic Nick and Nora style crystal Martini glasses. Having a very, very cold glass is essential – we freeze them first to make the perfect serve, otherwise the gin would get too diluted.

Most recipes you see call for one part vermouth to six parts gin. I personally like mine really dry with just a little vermouth – and I would say this is definitely becoming more popular, more people are asking for dry martinis! I prefer to make mine with gin rather than vodka, as I think it makes for a smoother and more complex drink.

What about twists on the classic – are there any frequent requests?

Popular requests include a Gibson, served with a pickled onion; and a Gimlet, with lime cordial – plus we like to add a twist of lime.

Some people do ask for their Martini to be shaken, but it’s not something I would recommend as it dilutes the drink… stirring definitely makes for the optimum serve.

What tips would you give to anyone who wants to make a Martini at home?

The quality of the alcohol you use is the number one thing. Customers kept asking for Monkey 47, so I started stocking it at the bar and it is now my favourite gin as well. The botanicals from Germany give it a really great flavour and the quality of the juniper gives it an aroma that means you are already tasting it before you have your first sip.

For me, keeping your gin in the freezer is the best way to make a perfect Martini at home. Then you can experiment with what twists you add, to create your own favourite.

And if you haven’t got Martini glasses at home, then whisky style tumblers can make a good substitute – and this is the ideal vessel for those who like their Martini on the rocks.

Where is your favourite bar in London and why?

The Gibson in Shoreditch. It’s very cosy and only has a handful of seats. It often hosts famous guest bartenders who take over for a short period and design a bespoke menu, so you can always experience something new or different.

It’s also really good for Martinis – I would recommend trying an oily Martini while you’re there.

And finally, when you’re not at The Wolseley, which Wolseley Hospitality Group restaurant do you like to dine/drink at?

It has to be Bellanger in Islington. It has such a good vibe, the space is beautiful and the bar is expansive – you feel like you could sit at the bar for hours. When I’m there, my go-to orders are always an Old Fashioned or a Negroni. It’s a great spot for cocktails.

Published 10th September 2021