Written by Cocktails

How to Make a Martini

Vodka martini cocktail, vermouth and olives

I have come to the realization that there are some big gaps in the knowledge people need to make a decent Martini, or any cocktail for that matter. Art of Drink has always been about the dissemination of information for the betterment of cocktails so, with this post, we are going back to basics. Even though a lot of us are good at discussing the minutia that makes cocktail really interesting, we sometimes need to come down from our glass towers and share the basics of good drinks because drinks are suppose to be enjoyable and everyone has different tastes.

The most surprising aspect of a classic cocktail tasting is how many people have never tried a proper Martini—a proper Martini being gin and a recognizable quantity of vermouth. Let’s not talk about vodka or vividly coloured fruit juices in this article.

A basic modern Martini recipe would be as follows:

Yield: 1 Drink

Gin Martini

The classic Gin Martini is a favourite cocktail for many, but the key to a good one is all in how you make it. Most importantly, fresh vermouth and the drink should be well chilled.
Prep Time 1 minute
Total Time 1 minute

Ingredients

  • 2 oz London Dry Gin
  • ¼ - ½ oz Dry Vermouth
  • 2 Dashes Orange Bitters (Optional)
  • 3 Olives

Instructions

  1. Add cold, large cube ice to a stirring glass
  2. Add the gin, vermouth and bitters
  3. Stir for at least 30 seconds
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe or martini glass
  5. Garnish with 3 olives on a pick

Notes

For the best martini it really comes down to good vermouth and a well chilled drink.

If vodka is your preference, simply substitute your preferred vodka for the gin.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 135 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg

Martini Making Tips

1. Vermouth

A Martini isn’t a martini unless it contains vermouth. More importantly, vermouth is a key ingredient that makes this cocktail actually taste good, so it should never be considered “ice cube wash”. Obviously, tastes vary, but a ¼ ounce of vermouth in a 2 ounce cocktail is a good start, but feel free to increase it. Martini recipes from the early 1900s were equal parts gin and vermouth.

2. Ice and Dilution

A properly made Martini should be well chilled, with ice. Don’t put the gin in the freezer to make it extra cold because this just makes it impossible for the gin to melt the ice and dilution is really important. Nobody drinks a 26% ABV Shiraz, well the Australians would if they could, but the point is that cocktails need some water to balance out the potency of the spirit. Warm gin and cold ice are perfect partners.

3. Stirred, not Shaken

Savages shake Martinis. The reason we stir a martini is to avoid making it hazy. When you shake a drink vigorously it incorporates tiny air bubbles that make the martini opaque. Stirring keeps it clear and elegant. Don’t be lazy either, stir for a good 30 seconds. And no you can’t bruise gin. Stirring counts for style point.

4. Chill Your Glassware

A cold glass is always a good idea for any cocktail.

5. Consumption Time

A Martini is a bracer that is consumed to break the daily stresses, it is not meant to be lingered over until it is room temperature. You don’t need to down it like a shooter, but don’t nurse your Martini either. That is what the glass of water being served along with it is for. Consider 10 mintues the maximum consumption for your Martini.

This seems simple enough, but so many people fail to execute these basic rules, which leads to another round of bad Martinis and disappointed customers. 

Now that we have some of the basics on how to make a good martini, here’s some required reading to help your pursuit of cocktail appreciation.

Additional Reading:

The Big Old Boring Vodka Martini
Vesper Martini
The Margarita
What’s Vermouth?

Darcy O'Neil | Art of Drink

Writer, author of Fix the Pumps, chemist, beekeper and general do-er-of-things, Darcy can generally be found looking for new and interesting things to do, usually over a cocktail. Currently working on more soda fountain history.

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Last modified: November 11, 2018