Roger Moore and the Art of the Martini | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Roger Moore and the Art of the Martini

Roger Moore and the Art of the Martini

L’Chaim discusses the American cocktail on the occasion of Roger Moore’s passing

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With news of the passing of Sir Roger Moore, the actor who played James Bond in more films than any of the other actors so far, I find my thoughts for this space turning to the martini, that classic, cooling, refreshing and altogether quintessential cocktail.

While Moore’s Bond was never filmed ordering a martini, he certainly enjoyed a great many of them on screen and off. The martini predates James Bond, but surely owes much of its general popularity to the films.

To famed journalist and infamous boozer H.L. Mencken, the martini was “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet,” while to the novelist and historian Bernard DeVoto, the martini was “the supreme American gift to world culture.” Perhaps Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev got closer to the mark when he referred to the martini as “the USA’s most lethal weapon.”

Like so many of the best classic cocktails, the exact origins of the martini are obscure and hotly debated among those who enjoy debating such things. What continues to sustain interest in the martini is the drink itself, not its pedigree. While the cinematic James Bond ushered in the era of vodka martinis, cocktail traditionalists—myself included—consider the original gin version far superior.

As in most things, connoisseurs have very definite, often tediously pedantic, ideas about every aspect of every nuance of their martinis. They consider whether a martini should be shaken or stirred, served with bitters or without, garnished with a twist of lemon, a couple of olives, or nothing at all. Not to mention the more fundamental question of gin versus vodka and to what ratio it should be mixed with vermouth. Whatever. In matters of taste, the only opinion that counts is your own — and maybe, whoever is paying for your drinks.

“I myself prefer a gin Martini,” Moore noted, though he had to give them up entirely a few years before his passing upon discovering that he was diabetic. “In all my years of travelling,” he wrote, “[I] believe the best is served in the bar of Maison Pic, in Valence, France. How do they prepare it?”

“First, the ingredients. My gin of choice is Tanqueray and vermouth has to be Noilly Prat.”

“Take the glass or cocktail shaker you are using and, for two sensible-sized martinis, fill a quarter of each glass with Noilly Prat. Swill it around and then discard it. Next, top the glasses up with gin, drop in a zest of lemon, and place the glasses in a freezer or ice-cold fridge until you are – or should I say she is – ready.”

The famed Noilly Prat company has never been produced a kosher vermouth, but otherwise his recipe works a treat. Rest in peace, Sir Roger Moore. L’Chaim!

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