Dry, dirty, and other martinis

Dry Martini

According to the International Bartenders Association, 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, or a Kangaroo), 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.

Dirty Martini

A dirty martini is a martini that contains olive brine, making it indeed loo “dirty”. The official IBA recipe calls for vodka on this one, even if the herbal nature of gin goes better with the brine, I think. The brine should be limited to a dash or two, otherwise the drink will get too salty. Given that we have somehow lost the purity of the Dry Martini, garnish can vary: blue cheese, or jalapeño peppers can fit. This variation has its place in history: it is said that the famous martini that FDR served to Churchill and Stalin at the end of WWII was a dirty one.

Fifty-Fifty Martini 

A.k.a the pre-prohibition martini, the fifty-fifty contains equal parts dry vermouth and London Dry gin. The 50-50 ratio was the standard pre-Prohibition, and perhaps as early as the late 1800s. Gordon’s Gin actually offered “ready-to-serve” Fifty-Fifty Martini shakers as early as 1924. But perhaps the earliest mention of the Fifty-Fifty Martini in print comes toward the end of Prohibition, in The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930). Given its lower alchool kick, it can be considered an “introductory” Martini.

Vesper Martini

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, it seems) and gets its name from fictional double agent 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. In 1986, the makers of Kina Lillet removed quinine, which made the Kina Lillet a completely different product called today Lillet Blanc. These days, the ingredient that most closely approximates the original kina lillet is Cocchi Americano.

Gibson Martini

The Gibson uses one or two pickled cocktail onion in place of the olive or lemon twist, adding an umami tone. The Gibson is believed to have been created by San Francisco businessman Walter D.K. Gibson in the late 1800s, who thought that eating onions prevented colds. The name might come from America’s first national standard of feminine idyllic beauty, the Gibson Girls. The Gibson garnishes the martini’s delicate body with two cocktail onions, that would represents a Gibson Girl’s two voluptuous breasts. Note: the Gibson is the only cocktail that calls for an even number of garnish; tradition would generally call this bad luck.

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 Papa 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 we’re making on a regular basis to the original martini: gin, sweet vermouth, bitters, and a twist.

30ml Old Tom Gin
30ml Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura biters
2 dashes of Curaçao

Perfect Martini

This Martini variation is close to a Martinez, the drink that many cocktail historians believe evolved into the Martini. Made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, orange bitters and a lemon twist, the cocktail is more complex and boldly flavored than a standard Martini.