It’s finally here! The 2021 Let’s Get Blitzen: Cocktail Advent Calendar – Day 1 and we’re kicking things off with a beautiful Rosemary Martini made with The Botanist Islay Dry Gin. I’m not typically a martini enthusiast, relative to other spirit-forward sippers like the Old Fashioned or Manhattan, but in developing this cocktail I set out to create a martini that I could find myself enjoying throughout the holiday season.
A good martini is an exercise in restraint and thoughtful preparation. Yes, it’s typically only two ingredients: gin and dry vermouth, but precise measurement, dilution, and technique are required to serve a masterful martini. In my opinion, a martini should always be stirred, never shaken (in spite of James Bond’s misguided preference).
This post is sponsored by The Botanist Islay Dry Gin.
Typically, spirit-only cocktails are stirred to chill and dilute the drink without adding texture. Shaking, by contrast, chills and dilutes but also emulsifies and aerates the ingredients which ensure components with different liquid densities are wholly combined. As a result, shaken cocktails will often have a frothy and cloudy appearance. Properly stirred cocktails should render a crystalline appearance and silky smooth mouthfeel.
As you can see in the images here, I’ve stirred this Rosemary Martini to a dense and silky texture. A well-chilled glass is imperative when serving a martini – so be sure to pop your glassware in the freezer before your start mixing.
The addition of rosemary syrup and a couple dashes of orange bitters to the classic combination of gin and dry vermouth makes for a more approachable sipper and highlights the 22 foraged botanicals in The Botanist Islay Dry Gin.
The Botanist is a true expression of craft distilling. Located on Islay, one of the southernmost of the Inner Hebridean Islands located off the west coast of Scotland, a well-known home to some of the world’s best Scotch distilleries, The Botanist gets its distinct flavour from the fruits of the land.
It takes in-house forager, James Donaldson, seven months each year to personally pick the ingredients for The Botanist, leaf by leaf, flower by flower, when each plant is in its prime. He then fills a cotton bag with enough of the carefully prepared botanicals for one batch of gin at a time, and painstakingly prepares them for distilling in his drying room.
Once the hand-foraged botanicals are ready, they are handed over to Bruichladdich’s Head Distiller Adam Hannett who applies the same principles of care in his work with The Botanist as he does with their renowned Bruichladdich whisky. The 22 botanicals in The Botanist have tremendous potency and their flavour is coaxed gently using a unique simmer distillation method. This is a much slower method of distillation that allows the flavours and mouthfeel to develop at their own pace.
Before you stir The Botanist into this cocktail, I’d encourage you to experience it on its own. Give yourself sometime and allow it to open up, discovering the complexity of the spirit. As it reveals itself to you, you’ll likely pick up a lot of the minty aspects to it – coming from the apple mint, spearmint, and water mint in the botanical blend. On the palate, you’ll start to get some of the spiciness coming through, some of the cinnamon, some of the woodiness from the juniper.
The smoked rosemary garnish on this martini adds a fantastic campfire nose-flavour that adds complexity to the finished product and references the syrup and unique botanical blend of The Botanist. This is one garnish that I’d highly recommend you not skip.
Be sure to tune into my Instagram stories tonight at 5 pm Eastern for a step-by-step tutorial on how to prepare this elegant cocktail.
This Rosemary Martini is a refined cocktail that celebrates the 22 botanicals within The Botanist Islay Dry Gin with a complementary rosemary syrup and smoked rosemary garnish.
Combine sugar, water, and rosemary sprigs in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit at room temperature until completely cool.
Remove rosemary sprigs and store syrup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three weeks.