How To Make A Martini

You won’t find a better cocktail with fewer ingredients than the Martini.

Find a better cocktail with fewer ingredients. You probably can’t. That said, the Martini is probably the most controversial cocktail, due to the polarizing argument of gin versus vodka. The central question is: is a vodka Martini really a martini? Let’s get into it.

Vodka martinis are typically shaken (gin is always stirred), and they tend to be extremely dry - or, in other words, they have very little vermouth. So what you’re mostly drinking is ice-cold vodka - but as long there’s vermouth in there, it’s still somewhat permissible to call this a Martini. Still, we think it’s weird how often you hear vodka Martini drinkers disparaging vermouth. If that’s your stance, stop ordering Martinis, and start asking for straight vodka chilled in a martini glass. There’s nothing wrong with that.

In any case, let’s start with gin.

How It Tastes: Strong, Floral, Pretty Much Like Gin

Drink If You Like:Negroni, Vesper

How To Make A Martini image

photo credit: Emily Schindler

Gin Martini

You’ll Need:

  • Ice

  • Coupe, Nick & Nora, or Martini glass

  • 2.25 ounces gin

  • .75 ounces dry vermouth

  • Lemon twist or olive for garnish

Step One: Glass Prep

Do yourself a favor, and put your Martini glass in the freezer before you make your cocktail. It’ll all make sense in a bit.

Step Two: Dry Vermouth

The vermouth we’re using for our Martini is the dry variety. It’s clear, it typically comes in a green bottle, and it should also say “dry” on the label. Measure out .75 ounces of dry vermouth, and put it in a mixing glass.

Step Three: Gin

Whatever gin you use is entirely up to you. They all incorporate different herbs and spices (the one constant being juniper berries), so find one that suits you. Did you find it? Great. Put 2.25 ounces of gin in your mixing glass.

Step Four: Stir

After you have all your ingredients in your mixing glass, add ice. And, please, add more than you think you need. Every drop of your ingredients should be in contact with ice, with more ice poking up over the top. Now, give everything a stir, using a nice circular motion. (It’s all in the wrist.) 20 seconds should do it. It should be crisp and cold, with a silky texture that only comes from stirring.

Step Five: Pour & Garnish

Remember that glass in your freezer? Get it. It should be frosty, like a windshield in February. Strain your Martini into that glass, garnish with a lemon twist or an olive, and consume immediately.

Vodka Martini

You’ll Need:

  • Ice

  • Martini glass

  • 2.75 ounces vodka

  • Splash of vermouth

  • Lemon twist or olive for garnish

Step One: Glass Prep

Before you start making your drink, do the right thing, and put your glass in the freezer.

Step Two: Vermouth

Could we omit the vermouth altogether? Absolutely. But then you wouldn’t be able to say, “Look at me enjoying my vodka Martini.” The vermouth is what allows you to call this drink a Martini (and not just cold vodka), so go ahead and throw a dash of dry vermouth into your shaker.

Step Three: Vodka

2.75 ounces sounds like a lot of vodka - and it is. But that’s also what you’ve elected to drink, and we salute you. Now put all 2.75 ounces of that vodka into your shaker.

Step Four: Shake

Why shake vodka and not gin? Because shaking “bruises” gin - and by that we mean it tends to wash the gin out, and you lose a lot of flavor. But with vodka, there isn’t a lot of flavor in the first place. (It’s distilled that way.) So go ahead and get that vodka Martini as cold as humanly possible with a 20-second vigorous shake.

Step Five: Pour & Garnish

Where’s your glass? Well, it should be in the freezer. Go retrieve it. Now strain your Martini into your chilled glass (extra credit for using a fine strainer to remove all the tiny ice shards that will gradually dilute your beverage), then garnish with an olive or a lemon twist. Drink immediately.

Want a Dirty Martini?

Olive juice in a Martini can be very satisfying if that’s what you’re craving, and a tiny bit of salt will actually enhance the flavor of your cocktail (just like food). That said, it’s our opinion that dirty Martinis are... fine. If you order a reasonably dirty martini in a bar, it’s important to know that you’re paying for about an ounce of olive juice straight from the jar, which is, essentially, salty trash water. (No offense to olive producers. Olives are delicious.)

Now, how do you make a dirty martini? First off, you need some salty trash water. You can get that from any jar of olives. Next, add .5 ounce to your gin or vodka Martini (or a full ounce if you really just love the stuff), and prepare your beverage just like we detailed above. It’s that simple. Garnish with an olive.

Suggested Reading

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