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- Prep 5min
Updated September 23, 2014
olives, for garnish if desired
Place ice in a mixing glass, add liquor and vermouth and stir well.
Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Nutrition InformationNo nutrition information available for this recipe
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Classic Martini Cocktail Recipe
I'm probably going to get all kinds of feedback on this one, likely ranging from "Amen!" to "Heresy!" but before you sharpen your keyboard, let me say one thing: the martini is way more flexible than you might think.
Nowadays it's typical to order one of these in a bar and be given a glass of something clear and cold—a large, chilled pour of gin or, let's face it, vodka, with nothing in it except a massive olive or three. With all due respect, that's not a martini. That's just cold booze, and there's no shame in ordering that if that's what you want.
But for at least the first five decades of its circulation, ever since a drink with that name and this general description first appeared around 1900, a martini required vermouth—a lot of it, none of this atomizer business or that stale "glance in the direction of a vermouth bottle" hokum. And early on, much of the vermouth making its way into martinis was of the sweet Italian variety rather than French dry—hence, a "dry martini" was a drink made with dry vermouth, not one with as little vermouth as possible.
Bar guides and newspaper descriptions published through the 1940s and into the 1950s described martinis as a mixture of two parts gin, one part vermouth, many times with a dash of orange bitters (don't knock it 'til you've tried it) and a lemon twist, and there were variations on the theme, with differing proportions and styles of vermouth. It wasn't until the Mad Men era that the less-is-better approach to vermouth really started catching on.
In The Hour, a cocktail manifesto by Bernard DeVoto, first published in 1951 (a new edition was released last month), this legendary curmudgeon describes his ideal martini as a 3.7:1 ratio of gin to vermouth, a proportion that would be considered drowning in the aperitif by today's standards but at the time was the cutting edge of dryness in the drink.
Whatever mix it the way you like. If you prefer your martini with only the merest whiff of vermouth, then go for it, or if you like it up to equal parts gin and vermouth, there's a firm historical foundation (not to mention a culinary one) for going that direction.
How to Make a Martini
James Bond certainly put the martini on the cultural map. No matter which actor was playing the secret agent, Bond's drink of choice often made a cameo and was always &ldquoshaken, not stirred.&rdquo But the truth is, the martini is a sophisticated classic in its own right&mdasheven without 007. It&rsquos also one of the most variable cocktails out there. Shaken or stirred? Vodka or gin? Should it be garnished with a lemon twist or do you prefer olives or cocktail onions? Would you like it &ldquodirty&rdquo with a little olive juice? Do you prefer a fruity version with apple liqueur? Or do you want to go rogue with an espresso or chocolate martini? The options are endless! If you&rsquore channeling your inner Pioneer Woman, you might want to mix up a Butterfly Martini made with gin, St Germain, Crème de Violette, and hibiscus bitters&mdashit&rsquos on the menu at Ree's pizzeria, P-Town Pizza!
But first, let's start with how to make a martini&mdashyou don't need to have a well-stocked bar to mix one up. Experiment a little to find out how you like your drink. And no matter what martini path you choose, be sure to serve your cocktail in a chilled glass to keep it nice and cold&mdashit makes all the difference.
Is a classic martini made with vodka or gin?
A classic martini is made with gin. But because the liquor has a strong botanical flavor, many people prefer to use vodka&mdashit&rsquos more neutral. You can't go wrong either way! Just keep in mind that a martini is basically straight gin or vodka, so use a brand you really like.
What about dry vermouth?
Other than gin or vodka, the only other alcohol in a classic martini is a hint of dry vermouth, which is a fortified wine. Like regular wine, vermouth is available in both red and white&mdashpick white vermouth (or blanco, bianco or blanc, depending on what country it comes from) for a martini. You&rsquoll only need a little bit of vermouth for a martini be sure to refrigerate the opened bottle or, like wine, it will oxidize and turn into vinegar. If you want your cocktail &ldquobone dry,&rdquo rinse your glass with vermouth instead of mixing it into the cocktail: Pour a small splash into a chilled glass, swirl it around, and dump it out before pouring in the vodka or gin. (If you&rsquore feeling fancy, you can mist the vermouth into the glass with a spray bottle like some bartenders do!) The classic ratio is 1 part vermouth to 6 or 7 parts gin or vodka, but some people like their martinis "wet," which means equal parts vermouth and gin or vodka.
Should a classic martini be shaken or stirred?
Purists would say that a classic martini that only contains alcohol (no extras like juice or olive brine) should be stirred, not shaken (sorry, 007!). Combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and stir for about 30 seconds, then strain. (This technique is often used with gin-based martinis, since some people feel that gin can release too many of its botanical flavors if shaken.) Many people like to shake their martini to get it super cold, though&mdashit&rsquos purely a personal preference. To shake, combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice and vigorously shake for about 10 seconds before straining the drink into the glass.
What should I use to garnish my martini?
Some people like their martini &ldquowith a twist,&rdquo which means that you squeeze the back of a wide strip of lemon zest to release the oils into the glass, then rub the peel around the rim. You can even add the peel to the drink for a stronger citrus flavor. You can also garnish with pearl onions for a &ldquoGibson&rdquo or add a toothpick of olives&mdashusually plain green ones, although some people like garlic or blue cheese-stuffed ones in their glass. If you&rsquore going the olive route and want your drink to have some olive juice in it, ask for it to be &ldquodirty,&rdquo &ldquoextra dirty&rdquo or even &ldquofilthy,&rdquo depending on how much brine you want.
Once you know how to make a classic martini, play around a little to create your own perfect recipe!
There's no better way to show off your hosting skills than by mixing up a round of well-made cocktails. There's a kind of magic to classic cocktail mixology that transforms a few simple ingredients into something more alluring than the sum of its parts. Need inspiration on what to make? Start with an Old-Fashioned, as shown here. This delicious, traditional drink is sure to start your party off right.
In order to mix a wide selection of cocktails, you need to make sure you've got the essentials. Setting up a home bar requires a small outlay of cash to get started but, to be able to serve up a round of martinis, Negronis, or daiquiris on the fly is a gift that keeps on giving. And once you have the basics, you can continue to slowly build your arsenal different spirits, obscure liqueurs, and assorted bitters.
One bottle each of vodka, gin, white rum, silver tequila, triple sec, bourbon, rye, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and Angostura bitters will give you a well-stocked bar to start your mixology adventures. Ask the clerk at your local liquor emporium to steer you towards their favorite brands for mixing.
To get started on the road to cocktail success, there are a few tools you need. A basic stainless-steel cocktail shaker and a mixing glass for cocktails that aren't made in a shaker, like the Manhattan, are must-haves. A strainer that fits snugly into the top of the mixing glass so you can pour the drink neatly into the serving glass is another item to add to your list. You'll also need a long-handled bar spoon for stirring drinks in the mixing glass and a jigger or measuring cup&mdashcareful measuring is what makes the difference between an okay cocktail and a great one.
There's a whole world of beautiful glassware out there for serving cocktails, and it's possible to have a different set of special glasses for each drink in your arsenal. If you start your collection with a set of coupe glasses and a set of old-fashioned glasses, you can serve any cocktail.
How to Make a Classic Martini Like a Pro
James Bond drank Martinis. We're not sure if you'd heard. As bloody if. There are scant few beings inhabiting this planet's English-speaking regions that didn't learn to gruffly instruct "shaken, not stirred" from the tender young age of, what, 9? But damn, did the guy give the Martini a bad rap. Shaken Martinis bash together ice and spirit, over-diluting what should be a delicate balance of gin with that shadow of vermouth. (Shaking is generally reserved for cocktails containing fruit juice.) In a good Martini&mdasha stirred Martini&mdashthe ice should shave the sharpest heat off the cocktail, no more. But the ice's vital contribution is cold. You want a Martini with icy, teeth-chattering chill. Brisk stirring for a full 10 seconds, which is longer than you'd think, will achieve that.
With Bond firmly rebuffed, this is what we believe to be the most elegant way to make a Martini, the dry way, the classic Martini. Gin. Dry vermouth, and not much of it. Meditative stirring with ice. A chilled cocktail glass. A lemon twist or olives. (Use three olives, because one is too few and bartenders whisper that two olives begets bad luck.) A reasonably high alcohol tolerance will also come in handy. Sip your Martini at your leisure&mdashor until it veers towards room temperatures.
A Little Background
This is an old classic. The first mention of "Martini" was in 1886, when an Illinois newspaper described the drink as having gin, orange bitters, and absinthe, according to drinks historian David Wondrich. Close, but no cigar. In spite of that misinformation, a gin-and-vermouth version of the Martini spread rapidly. It roared through the Twenties, eased itself through the Thirties, gained strength in the Forties. It has always signified class, although class hasn't always been desirable. In 1973, Esquire discovered that the "youngsters" saw the Martini as a stand-in for "everything from phony bourgeois values and social snobbery to jaded alcoholism and latent masochism." In 1986, we noted, "Not much fuss is made over a Martini these days. That's a pity."
Then, four years ago, we acknowledged that the Martini was having a moment once again, but clarified: "The martini has always owned the moment. The martini is about the moment&mdashthe moment of contact, of chilling-your-brain-stem insight." A hundred-plus years later, through glamorous ascensions and quiet retreats, the Martini is still on our minds. Or rather, our brain stems. So you could say it's an old classic that never shows its age.
Limoncello Martini Recipe
Because you can create just about anything with a martini, we can add literally just anything to recreate it. Its clear, clean flavor profile allows whatever you mix it with to take over the drink’s flavor.
Limoncello Martini recipe is a sweet and sour cocktail, especially perfect for warm, summer evenings. In this recipe, vodka, limoncello, and cherries will be used. The vodka will also cut the sweetness of the limoncello. This recipe is definitely a perfect balance of sweet and sour.
Who mixed the world’s first Martini? It’s a good question, but you could stumble down a very deep, dark rabbit hole trying to find out. Was it a California prospector during the 1849 Gold Rush or the barman at a flossy New York City hotel 50 years later? Most likely, the Martini is a cocktail that came onto the scene in multiple places at once, as bartenders began to experiment with gin and dry vermouth. Regardless, no origin story will leave you feeling as blissful and content as you will feel after drinking a classic, well-made Dry Martini.
One fact we do know: The drink’s original form, according to early recipes, was sweet. Nineteenth-century cocktail books regularly called for Italian (sweet) vermouth. The Dry Martini took its current form around 1905, when the new order of the day was dry gin, dry vermouth and perhaps a dash of orange bitters for good measure.
When making the drink for yourself, it’s imperative that you start with good ingredients—after all, there’s no place to hide in such a straightforward cocktail. Begin with a London-style gin. From there, add a little dry vermouth. The ratio is negotiable, but common formulas typically fall in the range of four-to-eight parts gin to one part vermouth. A dash of orange bitters ties the room together.
Despite the exacting demands of a certain fictional British spy, the Martini is meant to be stirred, not shaken. The cocktail should be clear, sans ice shards. But do stir it for a good 20 to 30 seconds to yield the proper dilution necessary to bring the ingredients into balance. Then, strain it into the glass named after the cocktail itself. Twist a lemon peel over the top, and there you have it: a Dry Martini. It’s a drink worth getting to the bottom of. Maybe more than once.
It’s also a drink that’s spurred countless variations. No, we’re not talking about the ubiquitous ’Tinis of the 1980s and ’90s. We mean the legitimate variations, like the Vodka Martini (self-explanatory), the Reverse Martini (swap your gin and vermouth ratios) and the Perfect Martini, which features an equal split of dry and sweet vermouth. Master the Dry Martini first, then try your hand at mixing its relatives.
Lemon twist vs olive garnish
Last up: the garnish! There are two classic garnish options for a classic martini: with an olive and with a lemon twist! Here’s what we prefer:
- Our top choice: lemon twist! The lemon peel adds a citrus zing that lends just the right flavor nuance. Here’s how to “express” citrus onto a cocktail: first squeeze the lemon peel over the drink to release the oils. Then gently run the peel around the edge of the glass. This gives the first sip a refreshing lemon perfume!
- When serving it “Dirty”: an olive. We like to use the olive for serving a Dirty Martini: with olive juice! The briny tang rounds out the flavor. See the recipe below for the Dirty variation.
And that’s it: how to make a perfect martini! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…because we know you have them.
How to Pair Vermouth with Vodka or Gin
When the 50/50 is made with vodka the flavor will be heavily influenced by the vermouth. If you know you prefer fruiter notes then choose a sweet vermouth. If you know you prefer herbal notes, then select a dry vermouth.
When it’s made with gin, you want to make sure the vermouth complements rather than fights the floral and herbal notes of gin. You will want to pair herbal gin with herbal vermouth and fruity gin with fruity vermouth. Here are two of my favorites:
- Carpano Antica vermouth is perfect for sweet and fruity notes.
- Dolin is a dry vermouth that works well with herbaceous and savory notes.
HOW TO CHILL A MARTINI
Stop pretending to be James Bond and please—please!—stir your martini.
In I’m Just Here for the Drinks, bartender Sother Teague explains why James Bond’s martini order shouldn’t be emulated: While a stirred drink is bold and lush, a silky ribbon of flavor that rides down your tongue, “a shaken drink is less bold, with tiny air bubbles in temporary suspension.” Air bubbles work well in sour drinks, sparing your tongue the intense tartness of, say, a daiquiri. But if you’re making a martini with good ingredients, you want to taste it. Why did they shake martinis in the movies? “Because it’s more theatrical,” Simonson writes. “A bartender stirring cocktails makes for a dull scene.”