By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Named after one of their signature cocktails – Dirty Martini is a bar group with seven venues operating across London. However, during a recent visit to the Hanover Square outpost, the staff were oddly resolute in convincing me to order a different drink, adamant that I would abhor the dirty martini on offer here. Yet although I’d been warned to drink it at my peril, this only heightened my curiosity. How could I visit a bar and leave without sampling the drink that it’s so famously named after? Made with the choice of either Tanqueray gin or Ketel One vodka as the base spirit (I chose the gin), the spirit is combined with a splash of Martini extra dry vermouth, fresh thyme, Kalamata olives and some of the brining juice from the olive jar, floating to the surface like globules of grease atop a simmering soup with too much fat. Quite surprisingly, the drink is actually quite enjoyable, and nowhere near as unpleasant as had been suggested, even though the olives’ pickling liquor does coat your upper lip and will remain for the rest of the evening.
Hidden away between Mayfair and the intolerably busy Oxford Circus, Dirty Martini’s Hanover Square is located upon an underground premise with particularly stylish décor and a real sense of prohibition-era glamour during our weekday early evening visit. And alongside a range of signature martinis, a new summer cocktail menu has recently launched, featuring five twists on the classic gin and tonic, plus five summer serves heavily inspired by the impending Rio Olympics. Pairing Brazillian Boca Loca Cachaca rum with passion fruit liqueur, orgeat syrup, papaya juice and almond milk – Dirty Martini’s ‘Pash Me Batida’ is a concoction that boasts an incredible exotic taste, while the playfully titled ‘Rum Forest Rum’ offers a classic tropical combination of rum and pineapple, albeit with the addition of Ciroc pineapple vodka, crème de banane, coconut water, gomme and a gentle dash of orange bitters.
Unlike so many bar groups, what’s most impressive about Dirty Martini is the skill that goes into making the cocktails, both classic and contemporary, on offer here. Meanwhile the new summer menu manages to bring a touch of tropical Latin America to London, even achieving the feat of making a visit to the city’s busiest thoroughfare proportionately tolerable.
Rum Forest Rum Cocktail Recipe
20 ml Ciroc Pineapple
15 ml Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
10ml Bold London
10ml Creme de Banane
10ml Lime juice
25ml Coconut water
Orange bitters, 2 dashes
Pineapple leaves, 2
Add all ingredients to a Boston tin.
Add cubed ice to the tin.
Shake and double strain into a copper Collins glass, over crushed ice.
Garnish, cap with crushed ice and serve.
Further information on Dirty Martini’s various London venues can be found at dirtymartini.uk.com.