Martini Gadgets 9 – Martini Tester – How Dry is Yours?

A selection of Martini Testers
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I first came about this gadget via a small pamphlet made by Gilbey’s Gin in the 1960s. The pamphlet states that, if you felt so inclined, you could send $2 to the supplied address and they would send you a tester of your own. I never actually thought that I would be able to get one of these, but now I have a few.

So what is it?

The Martini Tester is a small pipette with some coloured balls floating inside it. The idea behind it is that you use the pipette to sample your drink once it has been mixed and the relative positions of each of the coloured balls tell you how dry it is. I think it works on the principle of specific gravity, not unlike an anti-freeze tester.

But does it work?

I decided to test it with three different Martinis and, in honour of the Ginstitute & Portobello Star (the only other place I have ever seen a tester like this), I decided to use their Gin.

A Word About The Gin

My Gin of choice for testing the Martini Tester is Portobello Road No:171 Gin (the Vermouth is Dolin Dry). This is a Gin created by the proprietors of the Portobello Star, a fine bar located at 171 Portobello road in London and home to London’s second smallest museum, The Ginstitute. It is bottled at 42%ABV and contains 9 botanicals, including Nutmeg.

1.  50:50 – “Regular” on the tester’s scale

2.  3:1 – “Extra Dry” on the tester’s scale

3.  10:1 – “Extra Dry” on the tester’s scale

At 1.5:1 (30ml Gin – 20ml Vermouth), the tester returns a result of “Dry”.
A sample from a glass of 100% Vermouth results in all of the coloured balls floating (a result of “Extra Wet”).

The Score

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Practicality
Given the fact that the tester only differentiates between super wet, wet and dry and that, today, a majority of Martinis are made at a ratio of between 3:1 and 10:1, its use as a tester is limited. In addition, unless you are out and about, why would you need to test your drink in this way anyway? It’s also very fiddly to fill it with enough Martini to get a good reading.
Practicality Score: 1 out of 5
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Showmanship

There is not a lot of showmanship with this gadget; any sort of testing is rarely glamorous and if you use it out and about, you risk looking like a fastidious fuss-pot.

Showmanship Score:  1 out of 5

Curio Quality (How unusual is it?)

Very rare and unusual; I have only ever seen one other before.

Curio Quality Score: 5 out of 5