Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | September 17, 2010

“The Most Polished of All Drinks”

Click to enlarge

This 1965 Beefeater ad is pretty awesome. The ad extols the virtues of a Dry Martini, describing the enjoyment of one as “The grownups’ hour.” It begins:

Martini men know that the martini can be an ideal introduction to rational discourse among family and friends. Sophisticated diners claim it is the one drink that whets the appetite and prepares the palate for great things to follow.

The martini must be cold and clean. The clean taste, which is a matter of the distiller’s art, makes the martini the most polished of all drinks. The chill of the martini guards its subtle flavor, and delivers it roundly to the palate.

Greatness in the martini is not easily achieved. But its rewards are such that those who prize the small-group entertainment to which the martini lends itself so effectively often preside over the mixing themselves

The ad goes on to describe how to effectively make an Dry Martini. There is great focus on how to make it properly cold:

The martini you drink at home should begin in a pitcher of ample size, with lots of ice cubes. The pitcher should go into the refrigerator with glasses–two if it’s your wife and yourself, four if you have another couple who prize the martini hour, six if you plan to have many…

And it must begin life very cold. After pitcher and glasses have had at least twenty minutes in the refrigerator, hale the pitcher out suddenly.

It should immediately frost up. Pour in a good vermouth–as your taste commands. Then fill the pitcher with ice cubes. And pour in the gin you have procured for this occasion.

The ice should smoke as you pour the gin over it.

Stir the gin round and round, to bring it to the polished chill it needs to do its work properly.

Glasses need preparation too. They should be taken out of the refrigerator and brought to the pitcher immediately before serving. [Emphasis in the original]

The care with which the Beefeater ad describes how to achieve a cold martini is impressive. They elevate it to the level of ritual, something that jives with many contemporary bartenders who worship the Dry Martini as the finest cocktail in the world.

The entire ad, which must be at least 500 words long, treats enjoying the martini as an act of relaxation, of perfection and of gentlemanly socializing. The ad includes some history of the cocktail, from Jerry Thomas to Patrick Gavin Duffy’s recipes. Beefeater itself isn’t mentioned until the final section of the ad, despite the frequent recipes to gin preceding it. Not exactly what you’d expect from Beefeater or any other spirit company today.

What I really love about this ad is that it relates to the Martini in the same way I do. It’s a cocktail that is so special it deserves its own ritual, involving precision and deliberateness to make the drink adequately chilled. When made this way, it is one of the most relaxing and civilized cocktails in the world. Click the image to enlarge the ad and read it all the way through – it’s a great look into 1960s drinking culture and the celebration of the Dry Martini.

(Hat tip to Austin, via Mistercrew)


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