American writer James Salter is a Martini hero. He used to enjoyed an exquisitely made martini cocktail every night and, long before he died in 2015 at the age of 90, estimated he had drunk 8,700 martinis in his life.
In his book Life is Meals: A Food Lover’s Book of Days, Salter lays out the recipe for a perfect martini:
“First, use a good English gin—Beefeater or Tanqueray both ninety-four proof, are preferred. The dry vermouth should be Noilly Prat or Martini & Rossi…In a pitcher or shaker put about six or eight cubes of hard ice cracked by hand (Place the cube in the palm of your hand and hit it smartly with a heavy spoon). It is important that the ice be cracked so as to present the maximum cold surface to the gin and vermouth—a martini is and should be a slightly diluted drink. Pour one or one and a half small capfuls of vermouth over the ice. And enough gin to fill, or nearly fill the martini glass…Stir or shake until the contents are very cold. A martini that is not absolutely icy is a failure.”
Then, the master’s secret:
“There is a final, unconventional secret. Shake a Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce bottle, then quickly remove the cap and with it, dash a faint smudge of the contents—far less than a drop—into the bottom of the shaker before beginning. It adds the faint, unidentifiable touch of greatness.”