The martini has a strong claim to be the king of all cocktails. It is the subject of books, films and poetry. From neon signs to emojis, the glass it is most often served in has become the universal symbol of the mixed drink.

Yet there is a certain additional magic to the martini that I think is often overlooked. Many people talk of its elegance and simplicity, its unrivalled status as an aperitif, but what is seldom discussed is just how personal it can be. There are “correct” methods in mixing a daiquiri or julep cocktail, for example, but the martini is more flexible. Stretch the ratios, throw, shake, stir, bottle, pour — and it’s still a martini.

The ingredients — gin or vodka, vermouth and/or bitters plus ice — might seem simple, but then the best things often are. And there are endless variables for you to hone quietly at home. Find a combination that suits your palate, your mood and the company you’re in and it will sing. Once you find a good one, it’s a revelation — and serving the perfect drink to someone you love before dinner is one of life’s precious moments.

Ryan Chetiyawardana, ‘Mr lyan’, bartender Lyaness, lyaness.com

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