MARTINI & I
In the second of our series, we have physics professor/cocktail imbiber Shane Eaton sharing his martini story. Join us over the next two weeks as we bring you more personal anecdotes about this king of cocktails.
THE EXPLORER: SHANE EATON
The martini and I will be forever linked. Inspired by my “Martinian” friends Massimo, Giampiero and Beppe, I started drinking the dry martini a couple of years ago, partly because my palate was exhausted from overly sweet and many-ingredient modern cocktails. Don’t get me wrong, I love all kinds of cocktails. But after years of trying peculiar cocktails around the world, I needed a reset. Coupled with the fact that the martini cocktail has no carbs, I convinced myself this could be a barfly’s keto diet.
In 2019, I drank 497 dry martinis around the world in cities such as Rome, Florence, Vancouver, Calgary, San Francisco, New York, São Paulo, Cape Town, Tel Aviv, Kiev, London, Paris and of course, Singapore – where I consumed number 200 at Jigger & Pony, surrounded by my friends before my flight back to Milan. In 2020, despite two lockdowns, I managed to consume 505 martinis. Believe it or not, I’ve lost weight on the “martini diet”, but this could also be attributed to my healthier food choices and all the walking between bars.
This may come as a disappointment to some readers, but the dry martini is actually not a good cocktail. The dry martini that I drink (20:1 ratio London dry gin to dry vermouth with lemon essential oils) is unbalanced by most definitions, but despite that, I love it. It’s dry, clean and crisp and has also helped correct my palate, and I am now able to appreciate all cocktails once again.
But the martini is much more than the liquid in the glass. The martini is about the surroundings, the ritual in its preparation. It’s a thing of beauty watching the martini being crafted by a skilled bartender. And then there’s that magic moment when the bartender places the martini in front of me at the bar counter. For a second, I feel like I’m James Bond, whether I’m at the local all-day bar in Milan or at Atlas Singapore, staring up in awe at the gin tower.
However, what makes the martini truly special for me is that it’s personal, and something I can truly call my own. This is perhaps best stated by Dario Comini of Nottingham Forest Milano: “Both great technique and experience are needed to make a martini. Within a few seconds, you must correctly read your customer’s preferences. Then, you must artfully execute a martini well-suited to their palate. After all, we all have different tastes and ideas of what makes the perfect martini. Each martini is individual and unique.”
My best ever martini? It was courtesy of Daniel Schofield, who performed a guest shift at Ceresio 7 Milano two years ago. I had revealed my preferred martini recipe to fellow martini lover Daniel the evening before, when we were out on the town. As I sat down at the bar counter during his guest shift, I was stunned that Daniel immediately placed a cocktail in front of me. It was my martini, which Daniel had cleverly remembered from the night before and had slyly crafted as I arrived. At that moment, I felt like I had joined an exclusive club, or even a secret society, and I, too, could proudly call myself a Martinian.