It is difficult to better the elegant purity of a gin martini cocktail as a pre-dinner drink. Yet later in the evening, something a little cosier and more comforting is called for. And this bacon cocktail, a smoked gin martini, is certainly it. The crisp salty bacon on the side, sits alongside the comforting fireside warmth of the gin and a hint of smoke.
The history of the gin martini cocktail is hotly disputed. Was it in the 1860's when patrons first ordered gin mixed with the new red Italian Martini vermouth, and referred to the mixed drink martini as shorthand? Or the 1849 miner from Martinez, California who had so enjoyed the "Martinez Special" in his home town that he asked for it when visiting San Francisco? Or even bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia in 1910 or 1911 inventing a drink for John David Rockefeller at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York? Presumably it is tough to pinpoint the origins of such a beautifully simple drink - a glass splashed with a hint of vermouth, and filled with ice cold gin. Finally a citrus peel garnish, or perhaps an olive.
This smoked gin martini stays true to the classic, but replaces the citrus aromatics with a hint of liquid smoke. Liquid smoke is a brilliant shortcut for adding smoky flavours. It is made from slowly burning hickory, pecan, mesquite and apple wood chips to release smoke. The smoke is condensed through water, and then bottled to give a of natural and intense smoke flavour. Too heavy handed with the dropper and you may believe you are licking a kipper. But just the right amount and it is a beautiful drink. The merest hint of smoky warmth beautifully complements the citrus aromatics of gin.
Unlike other bacon cocktails, this certainly isn't a breakfast drink as you'd struggle to do much for the rest of the day. However don't skimp on the bacon garnish - even after dinner these still go down a treat.
For the bacon garnish Serves: 2
- Streaky bacon, cut lengthways into 1.5cm wide strips
- Wooden skewers
For the cocktail
- 15ml dry vermouth
- 150ml gin
- 2 handfuls ice
- 4 tiny dabs of pecan liquid smoke
- First make the bacon garnish. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Press a skewer through one end of the bacon, and wrap the bacon around the skewer, twisting as you go. Grill for 10-15 minutes, rotating half way through until the bacon is cooked and crispy. Leave to cool and remove from skewer.
- For the cocktail, put the ice in the cocktail shaker or jug and pour over the vermouth. Stir the ice a few times to coat it with the vermouth. Pour away the excess vermouth.
- Add the gin. Stir the cocktail a further 16-18 times to combine the flavours.
- Pour into a martini glass, and carefully add the pecan liquid smoke. Dip the end of the teaspoon into the bottle and use to dab two drops into the glass.
- Garnish with the bacon to serve.