I can think of no better way to celebrate one of cinema’s greatest directors, Luis Buñuel, than to toast his life and art with an icy glass of his favorite martini, made (of course) according to his very own special recipe.
Buñuel was the director of such masterpieces as Un Chien Andalou, The Exterminating Angel, Belle de Jour, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie and That Obscure Object of Desire. He was a master of cinema, who created a body of work that has rarely been equalled.
But I digress, for it’s not his films I want to tell you about. No. Rather I want to share with you Buñuel’s personal recipe for the perfect martini, which he described in his autobiography, My Last Breath.
Here is what the dear man wrote:
‘To provoke, or sustain, a reverie in a bar, you have to drink English gin, especially in the form of the dry martini. To be frank, given the primordial role in my life played by the dry martini, I think I really ought to give it at least a page. Like all cocktails, the martini, composed essentially of gin and a few drops of Noilly Prat, seems to have been an American invention. Connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin. At a certain period in America it was said that the making of a dry martini should resemble the Immaculate Conception, for, as Saint Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative power of the Holy Ghost pierced the Virgin’s hymen “like a ray of sunlight through a window-leaving it unbroken.”
‘Another crucial recommendation is that the ice be so cold and hard that it won’t melt, since nothing’s worse than a watery martini. For those who are still with me, let me give you my personal recipe, the fruit of long experimentation and guaranteed to produce perfect results. The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients-glasses, gin, and shaker-in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero (centigrade). Don’t take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Stir it, then pour it out, keeping only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, stir it again, and serve.
‘(During the 1940s, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York taught me a curious variation. Instead of Angostura, he used a dash of Pernod. Frankly, it seemed heretical to me, but apparently it was only a fad.)’
Buñuel’s love of martinis was no affectation, as he had to have his favorite cocktail every day, and famously remarked:
“If you were to ask me if I’d ever had the bad luck to miss my daily cocktail, I’d have to say that I doubt it; where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead.”
And yes, Buñuel was a proselytizer for martinis, even including a scene in his Oscar-winning film The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie in which the main characters spend time discussing and preparing this thirst-quenching cocktail.
But we can do better than that, for here is Buñuel himself, showing us exactly how to make the perfect martini.