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Classic Martini

Classic Martini

A cocktail should be served so cold it hurts, which you should repeat to yourself as you stir. And stir. This martini recipe is part of Our site's Best, a collection of our essential recipes. Check out more tips here.


  • ¾ ounce Noilly Prat dry vermouth

Recipe Preparation

  • Holding a large (preferably 1") cube of ice in the palm of your hand, use the back of a stirring spoon to crack it into large pieces; place in a mixing glass. Repeat with enough ice to fill glass. Add gin and vermouth and, using a bar spoon, rapidly stir 50 times in a circular motion (the outside of the shaker will become very cold and frosty).

  • Strain martini through a Hawthorne strainer (or a large slotted spoon) into a chilled Nick and Nora glass. Strain any excess cocktail into a sidecar set over ice (or a small glass in a bowl of ice).

  • Using a small serrated knife, remove a 1" piece of peel from lemon; it should be stiff enough to provide some resistance (some white pith is okay). Twist peel over drink to express oils, then rub around rim of glass. Float peel, yellow side up, in martini.

Recipe by Audrey Saunders, Pegu Club, New York City,Photos by Michael Graydon Nikole Herriott

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How to Make a Classic Martini

Reviews Section1. You have to chill the gin for one hour in the freezer;2. The bottle has to be stored upside down;3. At minimum, you must be prepared to make at least four martinis per batch to allow the flavors of the vermouth and gin to mix properly; and4. If you do end up using olives for garnish - remember to dry each olive with a linen free towel so that they can properly macerate.Putting the gin in the freezer is a nice idea if you’re working with low quality ice that’s small or has a lot of surface area for melting, as it would dilute too fast with room temperature gin.What I suggest for party martinis, is making them in a larger batch, Diluting to taste not temperature, and putting the diluted Martini in a bottle in the freezer for an hour or so before you plan on serving them. Then you can pour into chilled glasses and it will be ice cold for your guests, who can garnish them however they’d like!For the person who suggested putting gin in the freezer; this would prevent proper dilution when stirring in ice. So no it shouldn’t go in the freezer unless you’re making a cold cocktail that doesn’t require dilution.What ? A lemon twist and no olive ? You lost me.Put the gin in the freezer.

How To Make a Classic Martini

A Martini is one of the most iconic and classic cocktails around. It’s also one that not a lot of people agree on when it comes to making it the best way. Gin or vodka? Stirred or shaken? Ice shards or double strained? Lemon twist or olives? Blue cheese stuffed? Dirty?

Point being, how you like your Martini is probably different than how your aunt likes hers. Despite this, you and your aunt can both agree that crafting a great Martini at home can make you feel as classy and sophisticated as they come!

Because there are so many options, it’s always good to start with the tried-and-true classic recipe for a Martini before you get to customizing your own. As we dive into the recipe, let’s take a look at how such an elegant two-ingredient cocktail can have so many people divided.

Gin or Vodka?

A classic Martini calls for gin. Some people love it, while others feel like drinking gin is like biting into a pine cone. Gin is full of botanical flavors, most of which are juniper-forward. It’s like the friend who’s always wearing a bright, funky-colored shirt and despite how you feel about it, it just works. Gin works because it pairs really well with the herbal qualities of dry vermouth, the next key ingredient in a classic Martini. If you’re going the gin route, I recommend using something high-quality. Some common ones are Beefeater, Plymouth Gin, Tanqueray, or Hendrick’s.

In the other camp, we have vodka. It’s a neutral spirit that tends to take a little bit of a beating amongst cocktail enthusiasts for being flavorless. Yet, it’s smooth and a lot of people prefer it over gin. If you like vodka, I recommend purchasing a premium bottle like a Belvedere or Ketel One. Don’t skimp on ingredients here because every drop matters. I’d say $25 to $35 is a great price range for a quality bottle.

Rather, the salinity and brininess of the ingredient serve to highlight the aromatics in the gin, complement the vermouth, and counterpoise the Martini’s bracing intensity. Adding olive brine, in the case of a Dirty Martini, takes this one step further, and adds a pleasingly savoury character to the drink.

Neat: Right out of the bottle. Up: Chilled, and served in a cocktail glass. Straight Up: Usually means “neat”, but check first.

Classic Martini Cocktail Recipe

I'm probably going to get all kinds of feedback on this one, likely ranging from "Amen!" to "Heresy!" but before you sharpen your keyboard, let me say one thing: the martini is way more flexible than you might think.

Nowadays it's typical to order one of these in a bar and be given a glass of something clear and cold—a large, chilled pour of gin or, let's face it, vodka, with nothing in it except a massive olive or three. With all due respect, that's not a martini. That's just cold booze, and there's no shame in ordering that if that's what you want.

But for at least the first five decades of its circulation, ever since a drink with that name and this general description first appeared around 1900, a martini required vermouth—a lot of it, none of this atomizer business or that stale "glance in the direction of a vermouth bottle" hokum. And early on, much of the vermouth making its way into martinis was of the sweet Italian variety rather than French dry—hence, a "dry martini" was a drink made with dry vermouth, not one with as little vermouth as possible.

Bar guides and newspaper descriptions published through the 1940s and into the 1950s described martinis as a mixture of two parts gin, one part vermouth, many times with a dash of orange bitters (don't knock it 'til you've tried it) and a lemon twist, and there were variations on the theme, with differing proportions and styles of vermouth. It wasn't until the Mad Men era that the less-is-better approach to vermouth really started catching on.

In The Hour, a cocktail manifesto by Bernard DeVoto, first published in 1951 (a new edition was released last month), this legendary curmudgeon describes his ideal martini as a 3.7:1 ratio of gin to vermouth, a proportion that would be considered drowning in the aperitif by today's standards but at the time was the cutting edge of dryness in the drink.

Whatever mix it the way you like. If you prefer your martini with only the merest whiff of vermouth, then go for it, or if you like it up to equal parts gin and vermouth, there's a firm historical foundation (not to mention a culinary one) for going that direction.

How to Make a Classic Martini Like a Pro

James Bond drank Martinis. We're not sure if you'd heard. As bloody if. There are scant few beings inhabiting this planet's English-speaking regions that didn't learn to gruffly instruct "shaken, not stirred" from the tender young age of, what, 9? But damn, did the guy give the Martini a bad rap. Shaken Martinis bash together ice and spirit, over-diluting what should be a delicate balance of gin with that shadow of vermouth. (Shaking is generally reserved for cocktails containing fruit juice.) In a good Martini&mdasha stirred Martini&mdashthe ice should shave the sharpest heat off the cocktail, no more. But the ice's vital contribution is cold. You want a Martini with icy, teeth-chattering chill. Brisk stirring for a full 10 seconds, which is longer than you'd think, will achieve that.

With Bond firmly rebuffed, this is what we believe to be the most elegant way to make a Martini, the dry way, the classic Martini. Gin. Dry vermouth, and not much of it. Meditative stirring with ice. A chilled cocktail glass. A lemon twist or olives. (Use three olives, because one is too few and bartenders whisper that two olives begets bad luck.) A reasonably high alcohol tolerance will also come in handy. Sip your Martini at your leisure&mdashor until it veers towards room temperatures.

A Little Background

This is an old classic. The first mention of "Martini" was in 1886, when an Illinois newspaper described the drink as having gin, orange bitters, and absinthe, according to drinks historian David Wondrich. Close, but no cigar. In spite of that misinformation, a gin-and-vermouth version of the Martini spread rapidly. It roared through the Twenties, eased itself through the Thirties, gained strength in the Forties. It has always signified class, although class hasn't always been desirable. In 1973, Esquire discovered that the "youngsters" saw the Martini as a stand-in for "everything from phony bourgeois values and social snobbery to jaded alcoholism and latent masochism." In 1986, we noted, "Not much fuss is made over a Martini these days. That's a pity."

Then, four years ago, we acknowledged that the Martini was having a moment once again, but clarified: "The martini has always owned the moment. The martini is about the moment&mdashthe moment of contact, of chilling-your-brain-stem insight." A hundred-plus years later, through glamorous ascensions and quiet retreats, the Martini is still on our minds. Or rather, our brain stems. So you could say it's an old classic that never shows its age.


We are very much familiar with how James Bond likes his martini, “shaken, not stirred.” But even before James Bond, the martini has been in existence since the late nineteenth century. Its origin is never certain and there are several theories about how our beloved martini came to be.

One popular story says that it originated in Martinez, California during the gold rush. One lucky prospector who struck it rich decided to celebrate his fortune at a local bar. The prospector then ordered champagne but was not available. Consequently, the bartender concocted a drink from ingredients that are on hand.

Hence, the “Martinez Special” was created. The ingredients the bartender used were vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and lastly, a slice of lemon. The drink became recognized and as a result, it was published in the Bartender’s Manual in the 1880s.

Dry Martini

Who mixed the world’s first Martini? It’s a good question, but you could stumble down a very deep, dark rabbit hole trying to find out. Was it a California prospector during the 1849 Gold Rush or the barman at a flossy New York City hotel 50 years later? Most likely, the Martini is a cocktail that came onto the scene in multiple places at once, as bartenders began to experiment with gin and dry vermouth. Regardless, no origin story will leave you feeling as blissful and content as you will feel after drinking a classic, well-made Dry Martini.

One fact we do know: The drink’s original form, according to early recipes, was sweet. Nineteenth-century cocktail books regularly called for Italian (sweet) vermouth. The Dry Martini took its current form around 1905, when the new order of the day was dry gin, dry vermouth and perhaps a dash of orange bitters for good measure.

When making the drink for yourself, it’s imperative that you start with good ingredients—after all, there’s no place to hide in such a straightforward cocktail. Begin with a London-style gin. From there, add a little dry vermouth. The ratio is negotiable, but common formulas typically fall in the range of four-to-eight parts gin to one part vermouth. A dash of orange bitters ties the room together.

Despite the exacting demands of a certain fictional British spy, the Martini is meant to be stirred, not shaken. The cocktail should be clear, sans ice shards. But do stir it for a good 20 to 30 seconds to yield the proper dilution necessary to bring the ingredients into balance. Then, strain it into the glass named after the cocktail itself. Twist a lemon peel over the top, and there you have it: a Dry Martini. It’s a drink worth getting to the bottom of. Maybe more than once.

It’s also a drink that’s spurred countless variations. No, we’re not talking about the ubiquitous ’Tinis of the 1980s and ’90s. We mean the legitimate variations, like the Vodka Martini (self-explanatory), the Reverse Martini (swap your gin and vermouth ratios) and the Perfect Martini, which features an equal split of dry and sweet vermouth. Master the Dry Martini first, then try your hand at mixing its relatives.

Oddly enough, the halfsies martini is considered a drastic variation from what a classic martini is today, but the half and half ratio is rumored to be how the drink began in the 1800s. It was originally equal parts sweet gin and sweet vermouth.

In the early 1900s, the cocktail shifted to equal parts dry gin and dry vermouth. It was only after prohibition, when people got excited for quality alcohol because they’d been drinking bathtub gin for so long, that the change in ratio occurred and a martini became such a spirit-forward beverage.

Vodka made its way into martinis as an option in lieu of gin mid-century, but it didn’t become a popular choice until the 1980s.

  • Author: Dan
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1 x

Today we’re going old school. This Classic Gibson Martini recipe is about as simple as it gets, and sometimes the classics are best just the way they are!



  1. Add the gin and vermouth to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.
  3. Add cocktail onions for garnish and serve.

Keywords: martini recipe, how to make a classic martini, gibson martini recipe, gin martini recipe, gin cocktails

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