How to make the perfect Martini, plus two gorgeous alternatives to the classic recipe

The simple combination of gin and vermouth might not be the oldest cocktail in the book, but the Martini must surely lay claim to being the most iconic.

For such an instantly recognisable drink, the story of the Martini’s origins is surprisingly murky. Some people think it was developed from an earlier drink, the Martinez, which appears in a famous cocktail guide from 1887; others claim that it was invented by a New York bartender whose surname was Martini. Still others believe it was named after the maker of a famous brand of vermouth.

Whatever the true story behind the origins of this classic drink, it remains one of the most beloved of gin cocktails.

Here are our five easy steps to making the perfect martini, plus a couple of our favourite twists on the classic recipe to try at home!

5 TIPS FOR MAKING THE PERFECT MARTINI

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  1. Use the right gin and high-quality vermouth

One thing that does really matter is the quality of the spirit that you use in your Martini, as this drink gives it nowhere to hide. Use a classic, well-balanced and juniper-forward London Dry gin.

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 Martini is the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet
— H.L. Mencken, satirist

2. Experiment to find the ratio of gin to vermouth you like best.

The more vermouth you use, the “wetter” the Martini; the less, the dryer. 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, which is equal parts vermouth and gin.

I must get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini.
— Anonymous

3. Ignore Mr Bond and stir, don’t shake.

Shaking tends to over-dilute and also to aerate the drink, making it cloudy rather than beautifully crystal clear. 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.

The only way to make a martini is with ice-cold gin, and a bow in the direction of France
— Winston Churchill

4. Serve your Martini cold - very cold.

Chill your mixing vessel (if using) before use, or put your glasses in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before you fill them with booze. You can choose to cool and keep your gin in the freezer as well (a method preferred by our own Craft Gin Club founders, Jon and John).

I like to have a Martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host.
— Dorothy Parker

5. Don’t forget the garnish.

The classic options here are either an olive or a twist.

An olive should be green, pitted and not stuffed with anything else that will overwhelm the flavour of the drink. Simply serve it on a cocktail stick resting on the glass. Swop your olives for pickled cocktail onions and you’ve made a new drink: the Gibson!

A 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!


So there you have it - five easy steps to the perfect Martini. If, however, you do fancy experimenting with a twist on the classic recipe, try one of our favourite alternatives below, or visit our Cocktail Hub for even more innovative suggestions on how to jazz up your drink.


2 CLASSIC ALTERNATIVES TO THE MARTINI

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GOLDEN MARTINI

It may look delicate, but this twist on the classic Martini packs quite the punch! Here, we’ve used Elephant Gin, but any premium dry gin will work well.


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THE MARTINEZ

Not strictly a Martini, the Martinez is in fact widely believed to be the predecessor to and inspiration for the modern-day Martini. So, the original Martini, sort of!