The Classic Martini Recipe

To mix a perfect Dry Martini Cocktail is not just a question of finding the classic martini recipe. It’s to do with understanding the ethos of the drink, its origins and variations and, using that information, to create the perfect Dry Martini cocktail that is right for you ( or your guest).

martiniglass1First things first, let’s check that our ingredients are of the highest quality. While the classic Martini recipe is for a gin based cocktail the Vodka Martini is just as popular these days.

So we are looking at gins such as Beefeater, Plymouth, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire and vodkas along the lines of Stolichnaya, Wyborowa, Belvedere or Chopin.

Vermouth? The classic italian Martini Dry Vermouth or the french Noilly Prat.

The taste of a Martini, while subtle, is up front, in your face and not hidden away behind an amalgam of assorted juices, syrups and liqueurs which often disguise inferior spirits so always go for the best you can afford ingredient-wise.

Cheap gin, cheap vermouth in a warm glass errm not for me!


Now how’s the ice situation? Lots of it please. Even with lots of ice on hand ice I suggest keeping the gin or vodka in the freezer ( don’t worry it won’t freeze up because of the alcohol content).

  • Step 1: Now I personally don’t mind if you shake ( gently) or stir just be sure that your shaker or mixing glass is pre-chilled ( fill with ice for 30 seconds or so then discard the ice and resultant water) as the whole point of mixing a Martini properly is to minimize the amount of water that ends up in the finished product. You can work out why keeping everything as cold as possible will help achieve that right? At the same time fill your classic Martini glass with ice so that too is nicely chilled for when you need it in a minute.
  • Step 2: Put fresh ice, the drier (colder) the ice and the larger the lumps the better – none of that crushed snow nonsense as it melts to quickly. Pour in a good glug of your chosen Vermouth, stir and pour/strain away the excess so that what you have now is vermouth coated ice. This is my personal classic martini tip but I’ll talk about ‘dry’-ness later.
  • Step 3: Add your gin or vodka – up to you how much, I’m not here to preach and don’t believe in ‘measures’.
  • Step 4: Stir (or ‘swirl’ in a shaker) for between 5 and 10 seconds, empty your pre-chilled Martini glass of the ice and lovingly strain your cocktail into it.
  • Step 5: With a sharp knife cut some lemon peel from an ( unwaxed) lemon. Twist it over the drink – the oils will spray over the drinks service – run that peel around the rim of the glass then discard the peel. Or drop into the glass if you prefer.
  • Step 6: Serve, holding the glass by the stem only to keep that chill factor going.

Optional Martini Cocktail Extras

Add a nice juicy green olive, or two, on a cocktail stick to garnish and nibble on ( a particularly welcome addition to Vodka Martinis). TIP get some special green olives and, whether they come in brine or oil, rinse them thoroughly first.

Those awful pre-pitted little green olives are a no-no as it’s the stone that adds flavor to the olive. I have to admit to being something of an olive fanatic and looking for new olives to use all the time.

What I’m saying is that the olive does not need to be pitted. My personal preference in my Vodka Martini is a large spanish olive that has been stuffed with a garlic clove and lovingly marinaded, or even an anchovy stuffed olive. For a classic gin Martini recipe I stick with the lemon twist alone but I don’t drop it in the finished drink as I find the lemon flavor too intense when I’m getting to the end of the experience.

Sidenote: Substitute a pearl onion for an olive in a Vodka Martini and you have a Vodka Gibson!

Here’s the best classic Martini recipe video I could find which is nice enough although, as I say, I don’t add the ‘twist’ to the final concoction. Also why be so miserly with the vermouth when you’re straining it off anyway? But those are minor gripes:

How To Make A Classic Gin Martini Cocktail

Now that we know how to make a superlative Dry Martini cocktail let us address that dry-ness issue:

From the pre Martini – Gin & French: 4 parts Gin to one part Dry Vermouth ( Noilly Prat) – to the driest dry Martini of all which contains NO vermouth at all! In other words a glass of straight spirit, I remember too those little perfume atomizers to spray the vermouth over the glass of cold gin or vodka, are they still around?

Also I remember those old martini jokes from raising the cold glass of straight gin/vodka in the direction of Italy to whispering, “Vermouth, vermouth” as you stirred. Or strapping a bottle of vermouth to a nuclear bomb, setting the timer, and then standing 2 miles away with a glass of cold gin waiting for the fallout!

In this mixologist’s humble opinion we should be slightly more generous with the vermouth than most bartenders are at present. The only way to know for sure is trial and error and personal taste – try my preferred recipe above and having strained away the vermouth add another small splash then add the main spirit. You might be pleasantly surprised.

As in all things don’t follow the herd, rather find out what works best for you and your tastebuds!

Related posts:

  1. Classic Champagne Cocktails

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