If, like us, you don't just drink Martinis on National Martini Day, you will want to know the ins and outs of making the perfect Martini each time, right? Well, you're in luck! Our step, by step guide to the perfect gin Martini will guarantee a delish classic cocktail everytime you reach for the shaker!
How to make a classic Martini
Purists will tell you that a Martini can only ever be made with gin (which, given where you’re reading this, is probably no bad thing). If it’s made with vodka, then strictly it’s a Vodka Martini. The reality is, these days if you order a Martini in any halfway decent bar, if you don’t specify, they will simply ask you which you prefer.
One thing that does really matter is the quality of the spirit that you use, as this drink gives it nowhere to hide. Traditionally, Martinis are made with classic, well-balanced juniper-forward London Dry gins. The NB Navy Strength in our Members’ June Gin of the Month boxes is perfect – and the extra alcohol content makes for a supercharged version.
When it comes to the vermouth, it should be dry (or extra dry), not sweet, and it’s certainly worth making sure that you use a quality brand and that it is kept fresh. The last thing you want is a stale, half-finished bottle of vermouth from 10 years ago ruining your lovely gin.
The more vermouth you use, the wetter the Martini, the less, the dryer. It’s worth experimenting to find your own happy place. The options range from a Naked Martini (around 10 parts gin to 1 part vermouth - literally just a spray or quick swirl of vermouth in the glass), to a Wet Martini (2:1 ratio), to the Fifty-fifty version, of equal parts vermouth and gin.
Mr Bond may have insisted that his Martini be shaken, but the prevailing opinion among those in the know is that this is not an advisable way to proceed. It tends to over-dilute and also to aerate the drink, making it cloudy rather than beautifully crystal clear. Some also claim that the shaking plays havoc with the delicate, aromatic nature of the gin. Overall: ignore Mr Bond and stir, don’t shake.
The way to do this is to fill a mixing glass or jug with fresh ice, add your ingredients and stir gently, ideally with a long-handled bar spoon, for about 30 seconds. The aim is to cool the ingredients without over-diluting them, so try to disturb the ice as little as possible. You can do this by keeping your spoon by the outside edge of the jug and ‘spinning’ the ice and liquid round in the middle, rather than jangling your spoon around in the ice cubes.
An alternative method is simply to keep your gin in the freezer and pour it straight into the glasses. The thing to be aware of with this method is that you’ll create something completely undiluted and hence incredibly strong, so proceed with caution!
There is one very simple piece of incontrovertible advice here: A Martini has to be cold – very cold. Chill your mixing vessel before use, and put your glasses in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before you fill them with booze.
You can choose to keep your gin in the freezer as well (as is the practice at DUKES), but if you’re going for the more traditional stirring method, you need to plan ahead and make sure you’ve got plenty of ice. As I was once succinctly advised by the late and very great bartender Dick Bradsell (inventor of, among many others, that modern classic the Espresso Martini), when it comes to making Martinis: “run out of ice = no party”.
The classic options here are either an olive (green, pitted, not stuffed with anything weird) or a twist. The olive should simply be served resting in the glass on a cocktail stick.
The twist should be a sliver of fresh lemon peel (try to minimise the bitter white pith), which is squeezed over the drink’s surface (shiny side down) to release the oils, then dropped in the drink. Simple.
If you want to try something a bit different, you can garnish with two cocktail onions on a cocktail stick to make a Gibson, or add a splash of olive brine to make it a Dirty Martini.
Now that you’re fully armed with all the information, you’re ready get started mixing!
Classic Dry Martini
As I said above, do feel free to experiment with different ratios, but this 5:1 mix is a good place to start.
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with an olive or a lemon twist.
10ml Dry Vermouth
Not strictly a Martini, true, but the classic Martinez gives an insight into the Martini’s history – and this rumoured precursor of the Martini is a deliciously aromatic, complex drink in its own right.
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with twist of orange zest.
15ml Sweet vermouth
8ml Dry vermouth
4ml Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
1 dash of Angostura bitters