I'm rather partial to drinking the odd gin martini on high days and holidays but in the past whenever I've had one at home I've always made do with drinking them in a plain wine glass because I didn't feel I could justify the expense of buying a full set of glasses for the odd occasions when I indulged. For some reason though, they just never taste the way they should when drunk out of the wrong type of glass, so a set of martini glasses has always been on my wish list of things to buy.
On a recent trip to Boundary Mill at Colne in Lancashire during their January sale, I spotted a boxed set of 6 martini glasses for the very appealing price of £12.99 plus a further 10% reduction on production of their invitation card (which I had) and I just couldn't resist such a bargain.
This box of six plain cocktail glasses is in a style called 'Ciao' and they are manufactured by Leonardo. Leonardo are a well known and highly regarded German glassware manufacturing company who export their products worldwide, currently to approximately 80 other countries. They have a huge catalogue of products which ranges from tableware, vases and other decorative art glass to items of glass jewellery. Their tableware is widely available in the UK through most large department stores including John Lewis and Debenhams. It is also available from various sites online, although expect to pay rather more than the £11.70 that I paid.
Although the gin martini is reputed to have been invented in 1862 by a San Francisco barman, this style of cocktail glass, also known as the martini glass, has only been around since the early decades of the twentieth century. The martini glass is something of a style icon with the conically shaped bowl perfectly balanced on top of the long, slender stem. The design is minimalist and yet beautiful but it wasn't designed simply for aesthetics as it is also very functional. A martini should be served iced, the colder the better, so the long stem is to allow the glass to be held without the contents of the bowl being warmed by the hands. The conical bowl, too, is for practical purposes and has been intentionally designed with a wide brim to increase the surface tension of the liquor which, in turn, brings out the bouquet of the gin and the vermouth. The conical shape also helps to prevent the ingredients from separating.
The range of martini glasses is vast but they vary in quality and design considerably. Many seem to have too small a bowl compared to the stem or are made from glass which is too sturdy looking or, even worse, are made from coloured glass! Not so these Leonardo martini glasses which are very plain but incredibly stylish.
The glass stands 7¼ inches high with a 3½ inch stem which is long enough for even a male hand to hold the glass without touching the bowl. The bowl itself measures 4½ inches in diameter and is just shy of 3½ inches deep. (For the mathematicians amongst you, the missing ¼ inch is taken up by the glass's base.) The bowl holds 260 ml of your cocktail of choice. The manufacturer states the glasses are dishwater safe but personally I wouldn't want to risk it as the stems are very delicate.
(Although the photograph doesn't do it justice, to see an image of the Ciao martini glass visit the Leonardo website http://www2.leonardo.de/en/products/Essen+Trinken/BarCocktail/Cocktail)
These classy and elegant glasses are made from a fine quality glass, denoted by the clear, bell-like note when pinged with the finger nail and they feature a bowl which, to my mind, is in perfect proportion to the length of the stem. Its beauty is further enhanced when they are filled with the clear, slightly viscous looking concoction of Gordons Gin and Noilly Prat, crushed ice and a twist of lemon.
It may not be the way James Bond likes to drink his martini but it's perfect for me!