We thought we’d seen pretty much every kind of possible martini variation — and then we recently heard about another one: a whisky martini.
Let’s just say the concoction, which replaces the classic’s vermouth with Scotch, piqued our curiosity. In sparing quantities, the spirit’s smoky and savory notes dance beautifully with gin’s herbal flavors.
In fact, this cocktail has a serious literary pedigree. In Norman Mailer’s 1991 novel Harlot’s Ghost, a character based on real-life CIA agent William King Harvey, who ran the Agency’s West Berlin operations in the ’50s, mixes a martini by rinsing the ice in a shaker with Scotch before adding the gin. Bartenders at the time, according to master mixologist and Liquor.com advisory board member Dale DeGroff, picked up on the recipe and started referring to it as the Berlin Station Chief.
"I am not sure whether Mailer’s research is so good that he would have wanted a drink that the character would have actually been drinking in 1956," says DeGroff, "but I was serving smoky martinis in the 1970s."
DeGroff’s version (pictured above) calls for two-and-a-half ounces of gin and just a quarter ounce of Scotch. If you like it, you’ll love all-star New York bartender Audrey Saunders’ Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini, including vodka, ultra-peaty Laphroaig and a tiny splash of anise-flavored Pernod.
We can’t be certan whether it was a Cold War spy, a legendary author, or a clever mixologist who first put Scotch in a martini. But whomever it was, we’re raising a glass to you. Cheers!
This story was originally published at A Whisky Martini. For more stories like this, subscribe to Liquor.com for the best in all things cocktails and spirits.