The Martini Companion is a fun to read guide to the history, ingredients and preparation of the classic American drink. Gary Regan and Mardee Haidin Regan are co-authors and clearly fans of the martini, and as they point out, a martini is not just the name of a particular drink, as many know, it has now grown to include a whole class of drinks, which still focus on vodka and gin as their main ingredients.
They discuss the birth and development of the classic martini, and how it has evolved to become drier over time. There were surprises in here for me, such as just how sweet early versions of the drink were. Imagine lower quality ins with sugar added to mask poor manufacturing, coupled with sweet vermouth as the original mixer, sometimes added at up to 1/5 of the mixture! No wonder there was a push toward drying this drink out.
The history rolls right into the development of the individual ingredients, so there are sections on gin, vodka, and vermouth, which each end with descriptions of the various popular (and not-so-popular) brands, as well as individual tasting notes. There are also discussions about vermouth substitutes, garnishes, barware, and mixology. Ever wonder what the difference between shaking and stirring is? How much water is added to the drink during each method?
The hardcover is a handsome book: cloth covered boards, with heavy photo paper and a solid binding, and illustrated throughout with beautiful photos of antique barware from a private collection. The author clearly had a good time writing--and researching--this one.
Fun stuff! It was fun to read. And the recipes in the back tied it all up in a bow.