The Martini is possibly the most personal of drink orders. Even if we stick to the classic gin-and-vermouth formula, there are endless gins, a number of garnishes, different gin-to-vermouth ratios with which to customize the classic cocktail. And then there are the real twists: swapping out the gin or even the vermouth for a different spirit, or adding new flavors altogether. Many of these, even if they have the word “Martini” in their name (or sound like that, as the Appletini) are too far from a Martini in terms of form or flavor, and we will omit these (see here to get what I mean). Also, we will omit all those cocktails that, being served in a Martini glass, are often – wringly – called Martinis: the Manhattan, the Bronx, the Aviation, the Cosmopolitan, etc. On the other hand, the list below includes some “borderline” Martini recipes that have become so popular that cannot be forgotten.
According to the International Bartenders Association (IBA), the Dry Martini is a “Before Dinner Cocktail” made of 6 cl of Gin and 1 cl of Dry Vermouth. Ingredients should be poured into mixing glass with ice cubes, stirred well, and strained in chilled martini glass. Squeeze oil from lemon peel onto the drink, or garnish with olive. So, to be clear, the Martini asks for gin and not vodka (that would make the drink a Vodkatini), it should be stirred and not shaken, it should not be too dry (with a 6 to 1 ratio you should be able to taste the vermouth), and it should be garnished either with lemon twist or with olive.
A dirty martini is a martini that contains olive brine, making it indeed look “dirty”. The official IBA recipe calls for vodka, even if the herbal nature of gin is also very good with the brine. The brine should be limited to a dash or two, otherwise the drink will get too salty. Here garnish can vary: blue cheese or jalapeño peppers can fit, but olives still are preferred by many. The Dirty Martini is believed to have originated in 1901, when New York bartender John O’Connor found inspiration in the classic’s famous olive garnish. First made by muddling the olive into the drink, and later by adding a splash of olive brine, the Dirty Martini eventually found favor among drinkers, including President Roosvelt. The Dirty Martini has become a standard: what was once a dirty secret is today a classic order for salt-craving drinkers.
The fifty-fifty (aka “Perfect Martini”) contains equal parts dry vermouth and London Dry gin. The 50-50 ratio was the standard before the Prohibition era, and perhaps as early as the late 1800s but the earliest mention of the Fifty-Fifty Martini in print comes toward the end of Prohibition, in The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930). Like many old-school drinks, the 50/50 Martini had sort of disappeared until some bartenders brought it back to life in the late-1990s: Sasha Petraske served the cocktail at Milk & Honey, and Audrey Saunders at the Pegu Club—both located in New York. Dubbed the “Fitty-Fitty,” Pegu Club’s version featured identical measures of gin and vermouth, plus one dash each of Fee Brother’s orange bitters and Regan’s orange bitters.
The Vesper Martini first appeared in Ian Fleming’s 1953 book “Casino Royale” (written partly at the bar of the Duke’s Hotel in London) and gets its name from fictional spy Vesper Lynd. When James Bond orders the Vesper in the book, he instructs: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” This one is unortodoxical in three ways: first, it mixes gin and vodka, second, it is shaken and not stirred, and third it uses Kina Lillet, a fortified wine that is different from vermouth (it has quinine instead of wormwood).
The Gibson uses one or two pickled cocktail onion in place of the olive or lemon twist, adding an umami tone. Some say the name “Gibson” comes from San Francisco businessman Walter D.K. Gibson, who thought that eating onions prevented colds and so added these to his Martini, others connect the name with the famous Gibson Girls (the two cocktail onions would represents a Gibson Girl’s two voluptuous breasts).
Hemingway Martini (In & out)
If in the old days ‘dry’ meant substituting sweet Italian vermouth for dry french vermouth , today it means almost no vermouth, or no vermouth at all. In the In & Out Martini, vermouth is used to wash the ice and is then thrown away. This is called Hemingway Martini, even if Hemingway liked his martini with a proportion of 15 (gin) to 1 (vermouth), making it a Montgomery Martini (in honor of General Montgomery who engaged in a battle only when his army was 15 times bigger than the enemy). In some cases, the vermouth disappears completely, and what the drink becomes is a glass of frozen gin with a twist of lemon.
The Martinez is the closest thing to the ancestor of the Martini: Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, bitters, and a twist. This will taste much sweeter than a standard Martini, but is worth trying.
30ml Old Tom Gin
30ml Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura biters
2 dashes of Curaçao
This is a sophisticated vodka martini that’s fruity and balanced, featuring a fancy French black raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice.
The French martini is a fruity spin on a vodka martini made with raspberry liqueur and pineapple juice. Invented in the 1980’s by New York bartender Allen Katz, and part of the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, its ingredients are Vodka, Pineapple juice and Chambord (or Creme de Cassis).
This cocktail is really far from the Martini taste , but the combination of vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso and simple syrup is such a popular drink that everyone should know it. The drink was invented by British bartender Dick Bradsell at Fred’s Club in London. Legend has it that a “top model” asked for a drink that would “wake me up and f**k me up” at the same time. Bradsell complied, mixing vodka with espresso and coffee liqueur, and the Espresso Martini was born. In this drink, the espresso is joined by coffee liqueur, usually Kahlúa, which adds another vein of coffee flavor to the cocktail. Note: this one should be shaken.