So famous is Ernst Hemingway’s passion for a good drink that Philip Greene wrote a book about it , which explores Papa’s drinking habits and how references to drinks made their way into his books. Hemingway loved martinis and created his own version called “The Montgomery.” He named it after Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, the British general who would not go into battle unless he outnumbered his opposition by 15 to one, the ratio of gin to vermouth that Hemingway used in his martinis. Hemingway preferred his cocktails icy-cold and reportedly had a clever hack for making “the coldest martini in the world.” His trick? Freezing water in tennis ball tubes to make massive ice cylinders. He also froze the glasses and the Spanish cocktail onions he used as garnishes. The result was a drink so cold that, in Hemingway’s words, “sticked to the fingers.”
Luis Buñuel once claimed he never had the ‘bad luck’ to miss his daily cocktail: ‘Where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead’. In his autobiography, he confesses that martinis played a “primordial” role in his life. On the ratio of gin to vermouth he remarked that:
Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative power of the Holy Ghost pierced the Virgin’s hymen “like a ray of sunlight through a window – leaving it unbroken”.
Here is his personal Martini recipe, “the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results”:
The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients – glasses, gin, and shaker – in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don’t take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Stir it, then pour it out, keeping only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, stir it again, and serve.James Bond. Shaken, not stirred. Need we say more, doll?
W. Somerset Maugham, the famous British playwright and novelist, was a huge fan of Noilly Prat French vermouth for his Martinis. Said Maugham, “You can make a side car, a gimlet, a white lady, or a gin and bitters, but you cannot make a dry martini.” He also believed that “martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Our 32nd President loved martinis so much that he traveled with his own martini kit. His recipe was on the dirty side – two parts gin, one part vermouth, olive brine, a lemon twist and an olive.
Clark Gable. James Gannon, the newspaperman Clark Gable played in Teacher’s Pet, would hold a bottle of vermouth upside down to moisten the cork and then run the damp cork around the lip of the martini glass.
Alfred Hitchcock. The famed Hollywood film director and producer liked his martinis very dry, with just “one short glance at a bottle of vermouth”.
Sir Winston Churchill. The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Churchill favored a very dry martini. As Churchill famously said, the only way to make a martini was with ice-cold gin and a bow in the direction of France.
“I never should have switched from scotch to martinis”. Humphrey Bogart, just before passing away