Strictly speaking the Vodka Martini is a horrible freak that should have been strangled at birth. I think there were even one or two of the great bartenders who refused to make them, on principle. The brief popularity of the Vodka Martini would have died out after a while, but Ian Fleming picked it as James Bond's drink of choice, thus ensuring its place in history. Here is Bond in Casino Royale (1953), as his predilection for the vodkatini rears its head for the first time: "'A dry martini,' he said. 'One. In a deep champagne goblet... Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel... 'When I'm... er... concentrating,' he explained, 'I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made.'". Indeed.

Strictly speaking there is no such thing as a Vodka Martini. The drink is called a vodkatini. But everyone says "vodka martini" (Fleming's fault again), so that's what we'll call it here.

The thing about a Vodka Martini (particularly when "shaken not stirred") is that it does it all wrong. Obviously it uses the wrong base spirit - I've got nothing against Vodka in general, but a Martini is not a Martini without gin. The Vodka Martini usually has far too much Vermouth as well. Shaking the ice with the drink (instead of gently swirling or 'stirring' it in the shaker) is often thought to 'bruise' a real Martini. And for some strange reason people love to put things in a Vodka Martini (usually olives - yuk) even though they'd leave a real one alone.

So it's an odd drink really. It's very contrary. But somehow, when it's made just right, it works and produces an excellent (well, tolerable) result. Maybe Fleming chose it for just that reason...

Anyway, the best and most fun way to make a good Vodka Martini is this:

  1. Learn how to mix a good real Dry Martini.
  2. Switch to Vodka and experiment until it's just right.
  3. As soon as you think you've found it, write it down - by the time you've finished experimenting you won't be able to stand up, let alone remember the recipe.

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