Martini Music

Setting and atmosphere are very important when it comes to serving a martini. Lighting and company play a part, but so too does the accompanying soundtrack. It could be rain on the window or the roaring of a fire, it could be a live singer or even an orchestra. Ideally it should be quiet enough for you to hold a conversation with your partner or drinking buddies. It is also preferably soft and in the background. It should ideally be worthy of the quality of the drink, and not so fast-paced it might encourage you to gulp rather than sip.

Below you will find one or two suggestions covering some different styles. The aim is to be soft and sophisticated, to cushion your ears while your anaesthetise your brain. Please feel free to comment below if you have any suggestions yourself:

Some post-war exotica from Les Baxter.

Some South Asian chillout music from Christophe Goze.

From Matthew Dear, it’s not the most conventional martini music, but I like it’s slow, intense electronic buildup.

Some Nordic chillout music from Röyksopp.

A nice, warm relaxing number from Roxy Music.

Classical music can make a very good accompaniment to a martini. For this blog piece I’ve chosen Ravel’s Boléro because it builds slowly and softly into intensity. On the one hand it brings the warmth of the Iberian peninsula (it was an orchestral transcription of Albénitz’s piano suite Iberia) while on the other hand it is forever associated in my mind with the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics where British pair Torvill and Dean wowed the judges with their ice dancing performance: cold and smooth like a perfect martini.

However, when it comes to classic music bear in mind that much of it was written to be listened to intently, not simply played in the background. You might end up with the intensity of both the drink and the music competing with one another – see below for an example!

I am increasingly a fan of the opera and if you look above at the Polonaise from Tchaikovsky’s Onegin performed at the Bolshoi theatre in Moscow, you will see how magnificent it can be. But I think it’s too intense to accompany a martini. You might want one after all the spectacular drama though. Ah those Russians…

And last but certainly not least, here we go with one of the definitive musical icons associated with the martini. Smooth, sexy, sophisticated and with just a little hint of danger, here is Dean Martin singing Quien Sera (Sway). There is so much of his music that could be used for martini o’clock.

The Japanese Pickled Ginger Martini

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Get ready for winter with this ice-cold Japanese-Russian-British infusion. If Moscow cuts off Europe’s gas supplies this is how to stay warm!

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I love gari (Japanese pickled ginger) and wanted to incorporate it into a drink for ages. Similar to making Limoncello the aim is to infuse clear spirit and add it to a classic martini.

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Take 1 small pile of gari slices (as in the picture above – the same amount you would be served with a dish in a Japanese restaurant) per 100ml clear spirit. Fill a container with the required ginger and clear spirit.

Add 1 tablespoon of sugar per 100ml, shake/stir until it has dissolved and leave for at least a week to infuse. For this recipe I used 340ml and the equivalent of 3-4 small piles of gari to infuse the spirit. I used Russian vodka but Polish or any other varieties are all fine (depending on your taste and/or national affiliations). Actually it doesn’t harm to use poorer quality vodkas for this recipe. Save good quality vodka for tasting in its own right.

When the time comes to pour, take a chilled martini glass and mix with the following measures:

Add 1 measure of sweet vermouth (or to taste)
Add 2 measures of the infused ginger vodka
Add 3-4 measures of chilled gin

Garnish with a slice of pickled ginger. If you have pink slices these are more visually attractive (I didn’t have any to hand for my latest attempts). When you finish the drink and eat the garnish it sends a bitter-warming-spicy chill down your spine.

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The ginger adds a nice warming quality to the drink. This makes it perfect for a cold evening, be it a clear day when you can wrap up warm and watch the early sunset outside, or for sipping indoors in front of a fire.

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You can also serve the ginger vodka straight up in a frozen shot glass if you want. Again, garnish with a slice of pickled ginger.

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Winter is the perfect time for this!