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An improved martini

September 4, 2020

Not a better recipe, but a better technique – freezing water in the glass

Last week, dipping into Kingsley Amis’s Everyday Drinking (click here) on holiday, I came across this under “the Dry Martini”.

“A couple of hours before the party get your glasses together. They should be on the small side – the second half of a too large martini will have become too warm by the time the average drinker gets to it – and have some sort of stem or base to prevent the hand-imparting warmth. […] Fill each with water and put in the refrigerator.”

I read it as “put in the freezer”. As Amis says.

“It is more important that a cold drink should be as cold as possible than that it should be as concentrated as possible.”

I should have realised that in Amis’s day the freezer section of a domestic fridge would barely hold a tray of ice; no chance even a small martini glass. But I’ve got a modern monster freezer, so undaunted I made my martini. Freezing the water in the glass in emulation, and using a modern vermouth, Regal Rogue – Daringly Dry (click here), to annoy him. Click here for the video. It worked a treat.


Only afterwards did I realise he’d never meant “freeze the ice in the glass”. He wrote.

“While the jug is standing, empty the water out of the glasses and drop a bit of lemon rind in each.”

Nor, from a brief google search, does anyone else. People add ice cubes, sometimes large ones to avoid the over-dilution problem, but never my technique.  I offer it to the world.

Jim Thornton

6 September update

I was wrong, or rather right first time. Amis did advocate freezing water in the glass, albeit ten years later. My volume is a compendium of three books; On Drink (1974), Everyday Drinking (1983) and How’s Your Glass? (1985). The quotations were from On Drink. By the time of Everyday Drinking he must have got a larger freezer. He writes.

“The best Dry Martini known to man is the one I make myself. In the cold part of the refrigerator I have a bottle of gin and a small wineglass, half full of water that has been allowed to freeze.”

“When the hour strikes I half fill the remaining space with gin, flick in a few drops of vermouth and add a couple of cocktail onions, the small white hard kind. Now that is a drink.”

Oh well. Nothing new.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John Thornton permalink
    September 5, 2020 12:10 pm

    I regularly keep a couple of martini glasses in the ice drawer of the freezer, just for emergencies you understand.


  1. Lockdown cocktails |

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