I have just watched how Martini produces their vermouths. It is extremely interesting. I always thought, that the company is using extracts of herbs which they just purchase externally. However I could learn, that they are making their own botanical spirit and adding this to the wine. It is for sure different than vermouth producers which are aging the neutral alcohol (or the wine) with the botanicals - but the method is different - not necessarily worse.
However this video sparked a question to me: what makes a good Martini cocktail.
First thing (sorry Martini & Rossi) - is a good vermouth. While Martini Rosso is not bad at all - and their Riserva Products are even quite good, I wouldn’t really suggest to use the normal Extra Dry. The Ambrato? Maybe - or Noilly Prat. Or Dolin Extra Dry...
But here is the thing: how much vermouth are you using? Now we are arguing since decades about the ratio. Bat you know, what we haven’t really put into consideration: the gin!
Look - it is not even so much the botanicals (characteristic) of the gin - but especially the alcohol by volume!
Drinks are significantly changing their character with different alcohol levels. A gin with let’s say 40% abv level is already “underpowered”. It cannot feature as much vermouth as a gin with 47% (even then I would just suggest a “drop” of vermouth or in and out). And a Navy Gin? This can use a good measure of vermouth.
Also we have to consider the ice and the temperatures of the liquids. Is the ice is coming in solid 1 inch ice cubes the drink will suffer less dilution. While if you have cones, where some additional water is “hiding” or even irregular broken shapes, where there is a lot of surface water, it simply brings down the ABV of the final drink significantly.
So the brilliance of a Martini cocktail is contributed mainly to temperature and dilution management.
In the case you like a Martini cocktail which has a rather a good ratio of vermouth, you would need reduce dilution (chilled ingredients - very good ice) - and choose a high proof gin.
Does that make sense to you?