[credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner]
". . .if there's a friend tonight with the old predilection, I'll mix up a martini for the two of us, in the way we like it, filling a small glass pitcher with ice cubes that I've cracked into quarters with my little pincers. Don't smash or shatter the ice: it'll become watery in a moment. Put three or four more cracked cubes into our glasses, to begin the chill. Put the gin or the vodka into the pitcher, then wet the neck of the vermouth bottle with a quickly amputated trickle. Stir the martini vigorously but without sloshing. When the side of the pithcer is misted like a January windowpane pour the drink into the glasses. Don't allow any of the ice in the pitcher to join the awaiting, unmelted ice in the glass. (My friend likes his straight up, so I'll throw away the ice in his glass. But I save it in my own, because a martini on the rocks stays cold longer, and I've avoided the warm fourth or fifth sip from the purer potion.) Now stir the drink inside the iced glass, just once around. Squeeze the lemon peel across the surface -- you've already pared it, from a fat, bright new lemon -- and then run the peel, skin-side down, around the rim of the glass before you drop it in. Serve. Smile."
-- Roger Angell, "Dry Martini" (in Let Me Finish, 2006)
Is there a more mythologized drink than the martini? "Shaken, not stirred." Served by FDR to Churchill. Dry, very dry. With excellent gin you need a minimum of vermouth. (I like Angell's "quickly amputated trickle" above.) With onions it's a gibson. With a lemon twist, as above, or traditional olives, it's a martini.
I like it made with gin, straight up, dry, very cold, and shaken. Served in the right glass, "the narcissus stalk rising to a 1939 World's Fair triangle above" (Angell). Recommended gins include Hendrick's and Citadel (both on the herbal side), Miller's, Plymouth. Broker's, Tanqueray, Beefeater, Boodles, Bombay. Keep the gin [or vodka] in the freezer.