Martinis are the biggest thing in cocktails. That’s why they’re shrinking.
Having quietly become fixtures at bar industry events, baby martinis – or ‘tinis’ in bar world lingo – are sweeping into top bars. Among the most striking reason for today’s teeny martini: even the drink’s most ardent fans think today’s martinis are too big.
“About 10 years ago, there was a trend for these huge, 16-ounce martinis,” says Miranda Dickson, Absolut Elyx’s global brand director. “My goodness, that’s all spirits. It’s just not a pleasant way to have that drink.”
“I’ve always said that a martini is the most sophisticated way of downing five shots of gin in one go,” Fords Gin founder Simon Ford jokes.
How fast should you drink a martini?
Order a martini at a craft cocktail bar, and you’ll be presented with 4 ounces (120ml) of liquid, give or take a few splashes.
Specs vary based on preference, but a classic martini contains from 2 oz. to 3 oz. (60-90ml) of gin or vodka, with a smaller, or equal, portion of modifier such as vermouth. (Around an ounce, or 30ml, of water is added when the drink is stirred or shaken, if you insist, with ice.)
A cocktail with several brisk ounces of booze raises a particular conundrum for martini drinkers. You either drink it quickly at the proper temperature, and get tipsy, or you sip it slowly, and watch it pool into a glass of warm gin.
“Those first two sips are like falling into a swimming pool,” says Toby Cecchini, owner of the Long Island Bar in New York’s Brooklyn. “It’s the most perfect thing.” But with an eye toward the rest of his night, he often won’t finish his.
Good things, small packages…
Since 2014, luxury vodka brand Absolut Elyx has featured Cecchini’s martinis at the annual bar industry conference, Tales of the Cocktail. Three years ago, the drinks started to get noticeably smaller.
From his Cecchini Tini Corner, the famed bartender doled out petite custom concoctions, including one summer in antique, 2 oz. cordial and liqueur glasses sourced from Sweden. “If you give somebody something very small, it de facto becomes precious,” Cecchini says. “People take note.”
With an eye on trends, Absolut Elyx debuted a 3 oz. copper martini coupe. “That was originally how you had a cocktail,” Elyx’s Miranda Dickson says. “If you went to someone’s house, you’d be served a little drink.”
And in 2016, Fords Gin began hosting martini-and-oyster pairing events where drinks were no bigger than 2 oz. “We started doing it almost by default,” Ford says. “We didn’t want to give people three full martinis.”
A growing trend
“Glasses in the day of the three-martini lunch used to be smaller, about 4 or 5 ounces, and usually filled with maybe 3 ounces of liquid,” says Robert Simonson, author of The Martini Cocktail (Ten Speed). “Glasses started to become really big in the ’70s and ’80s, and then you jump up to the 9-ounce (270ml) glass. You were getting three wholesale martinis in one glass.”
Hendrick’s Gin recently kicked off its Tini Martini Tour, which has made stops in London, Amsterdam, and New Orleans. The concept: little martinis from notable bars such as London’s Lyaness, New York’s The NoMad, and Paris’s Little Red Door, served in diminutive 1 oz. pours.
“It was clear that there is renewed interest in the martini, but from the perspective of the new cocktail age,” says Charlotte Voisey, William Grant & Son’s global head of ambassador advocacy.
A reverence for the martini is coupled with an awareness of drinking less and better-quality drinks, she says. “For me, a smaller-size martini is God’s gift. It answers all my prayers.”
Vodka distillers Ketel One recently debuted an animated TV commercial in the US depicting a man served a martini bigger than his head. He squints at it, then shrinks it to a petite portion. “Moderation is marvelous,” the tagline reads. The Drink Marvelously commercial spots position the brand as the choice for today’s health-conscious sophisticate.
The ‘one sip’ martini
Fuelled by trends in moderation, as well as an aim to serve the drink at its coldest possible temperature, teeny ’tinis are popping up on the menus of the world’s best bars.
At London’s new Tayer + Elementary, you can order the One Sip Martini, a premixed and prediluted vodka martini with sherry and vermouth. It is just over 2 oz., served frozen straight out of the bottle at -10C. A short walk from TayÄ“r is the Whiplash Martini at Fare, which is also prediluted, frozen, and tops out at 2 oz.
New York City’s Dante, crowned the World’s Best Bar this year, has offered a 2.5-oz. Fords Gin martini for the past year. “There’s a perception of a martini as a frozen fishbowl of vodka,” Dante co-owner Linden Pride says. “We wanted to go back to making it accessible for people. They can have a little tipple.”
The trend is also kicking off in Los Angeles, where Bibo Ergo Sum has just introduced a special baby martini service. “At 11 o’clock, our servers will go around and let people know that it’s tiny ’tini time,” owner Tait Forman says.
The acclaimed bar Death & Co. is opening its third venue in Los Angeles next month. The inaugural menu features a 3 -oz. Vesper martini for US$5. “You will get these ridiculously perfect and straight-out-of-the-freezer cocktails, but just have this one amazing sip,” co-owner David Kaplan says.
“This is one trend I would be completely happy with if it just continued on and on,” Kaplan says of small serves. “[The drink] is better colder. It’s perfectly diluted. It’s hospitable to the guest, because it’s this really delightful and boozy thing, but it’s not a huge glass of it.”
This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here