The Nothing Fancy author and 2020 festival guest shares the secret to enjoying Martinis even if you don't feel like going out.

“I used to think Martinis were extremely and exclusively fancy,” says Alison Roman. “If you have felt this way, too, you may be asking yourself, ‘What is this very fancy drink doing in a book that advertises advice to the contrary?’ Well, I no longer think of Martinis as being extremely and exclusively fancy. Isn’t that great news?

“There’s more great news, least of which involves you getting to drink a Martini in the comfort of your own home. Just like a Spritz, a Martini does not require any experience in cocktail making, simply the combining of two to three ingredients in a ratio even I can remember.

“Since making individual ‘tinis for everyone who walks through the door is not on my agenda for any evening, I like to make one giant batch, and since shaking a giant batch of Martinis is absolutely out of the question, I prefer them stirred. I’ve mixed my giant Martini (or many regular-sized Martinis) in everything from a flower vase to a Chemex coffee pot to those extremely useful IKEA water carafes to a cool jug I got from a flea market and swore I’d find a use for one day. (This! This is the use!)

“To make sure they’re as cold and diluted as possible (both essential qualities), I serve my Martinis over ice, which of course is in no way customary or probably even allowed, but it’s how I do it. My house, my rules! When guests arrive, offer them your selection of beverages, including a Martini. When they say, ‘Wow, yes, I would love a Martini’, smile and point them in the direction of the well-curated Martini bar and say ‘All you, baby!’”

Catch Alison Roman at Stokehouse St Kilda on 20 March as part of Global Dining Series presented by Singapore Airlines.

To make (for 6–10 people)


Gin (or vodka, if you prefer)
Dry vermouth
Olives, pearl onion, lemon peel, to garnish


For a batch of classic Martinis, combine 600 ml (2½ cups) gin (that is my preference, but use vodka if you like) with 600 ml (2½ cups) dry vermouth and 250 ml (1 cup) water in a vessel large enough to hold it all. I’d say this quantity serves 6–10, since sometimes it’s a one-Martini night and sometimes it’s a three-Martini night, and, well, wouldn’t you rather have some left over than not enough? (Hint: store any leftover mixture in a glass jar in the freezer; it will keep indefinitely.)

Set out the jug o’ Martinis next to a bowl of ice and any garnish you desire. Martini olives are classique (add brine to the cocktail to make it dirty), or use a pearl onion instead to make it a Gibson. Lemon peels are nice for those classy folks wanting theirs “with a twist”.

Things like tiny forks, cute spoons and toothpicks are a nice touch but not necessary. (The DIY Martini Bar is why I own 83 very cute tiny forks.)

This is an edited extract from Nothing Fancy by Alison Roman, published by Hardie Grant Books ($45). Available where all good books are sold.