Sitting on the Dockland Bay (Martini)

Written by Suzie // May 13, 2020

Go on, admit it, you’re now singing that Otis Redding classic…

My go-to drink whenever I’m out for cocktails, is a Dry Martini, and I’m a firm believer that every bar person should be able to make one, and that the quality of an establishment is in the quality of the martini. Believe me, this does not always make me popular on a night out with either the staff in some bars, or with my friends! My friends (even the gin drinkers) have often told me that my choice of cocktail is akin to paint stripper, so with that in mind, I have endeavoured to create a martini that can be enjoyed by so many more!

With this drink, I also wanted to pay homage to the history behind it. Rob’s great-grandfather, Joseph Cowell, was a crane operator on the famous East London Docks. This was an incredibly tricky job that required great skill in order to lift the cargo from the merchant ships to the docks without any spillage (or ‘greenacre’) which often resulted in the deaths of unfortunate crewmen below! Joe, however, was so highly skilled, he earned himself the name ‘Gentle Joe’ due to his ability to safely transport and deliver the goods without spillage, damage or, indeed, loss of life!

I would like to dedicate this cocktail to him! I have played with the bay leaf as one of the main botanicals of the gin, and created a Bay Leaf cordial which, if you are prepared to make (it is so simple!) really cuts through the force of the Dry Martini and makes for a much smoother drink. I’ve included the recipe for the cordial at the end.

Once you’ve made the cordial, this is another really simple drink with very few ingredients!

You will need:

50ml Kemsing Gin

15 ml Vermouth (I used Lillet Blanc)

15 ml Bay Leaf Cordial (add more or less according to taste)

Chill a martini glass or coupe (either with ice or in the freezer while you prep the rest of the drink).

Fill your shaker or mixing glass with ice. Add all of your ingredients and stir! You are not James Bond, who clearly knows nothing about how to make a decent martini – shaking ‘bruises’ the gin and can distort the flavour. How long you stir it really depends on your taste. I like mine strong, so I stir enough for it to go just beyond social distancing with the ice, rather than letting them become great friends. The longer you stir, yes, the colder it will be but also the more diluted it will become. This is a question of taste, and you must keep doing so! However, do this with a little straw by inserting it into the liquid, closing your finger over the top of the open end and then releasing when the drink end of the straw is over your tongue. If you just keep tasting, your martini will be long gone before it even gets to the glass!

The same goes with the cordial. I’ve suggested 15ml, but depending on taste, you can add as much or as little as you like.

Strain into your chilled glass (this helps to get rid of any tiny chips of ice) and garnish with a twist of lemon zest.

For your Bay Leaf cordial you will need:

10 bay leaves

200ml freshly boiled water

150g caster sugar

4g Citric Acid (really quite easy to get hold of from that online retailer named after a really long river, and really worthwhile doing!)

Pop your bay leaves and boiling water into a jar, seal tightly and leave for 24 hours (once cool, you might want to put them in the fridge).

Add the acid and sugar to a pan along with your steeped leaves and water. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Strain into a sterilised bottle, allow to cool, and then keep it in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

Take a photo of your martini creation and don’t forget to tag @kemsingginuk when you post!