“Shaken, not stirred.”
That’s just one way to order a martini, James Bond. I’m talking about vermouth on the blog this month, and I couldn’t not dedicate a whole post to this quintessential cocktail. 007 would approve, I’m sure.
The classic martini is made with 1 ounce dry vermouth, 2 ounces gin, maybe a dash or two of orange bitters and an olive garnish in a cocktail glass. All those fruity drinks your local sushi bar has on martini night? Yeah, those aren’t really martinis. However, there are a ton of ways to order a true martini at a bar. Try them, find your favorite and — most of all — sound like a pro when you talk to the bartender. If you’re a martini virgin, I recommend ordering a martini with the classic 3:1 ratio, then trying other variations to see what you like.
Click through to get the lowdown in martinis 101!
Ways to order a martini
Dry — The less vermouth used in the cocktail, the drier it is. If you order a ‘very dry martini,’ the vermouth is just lightly sloshed around the glass instead of actually getting mixed in. A ‘desert martini’ — Winston Churchhill’s favorite — is made without vermouth at all. ‘Bone dry’ means it has very little vermouth.
Wet — Quite contrary, use more dry vermouth in a wet martini.
50-50 — This version has equal parts dry vermouth and gin.
Perfect — A perfect martini has equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, plus gin of course.
Upside-down / reverse — This version utilizes more vermouth than gin.
Shaken — Mixed in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, then strained into a cocktail glass.
Stirred — Stirred in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, then strained into a cocktail glass.
Straight up — If a martini is served straight up, it’s shaken or stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass without ice.
Ice, ice baby
Neat — In a martini served neat, no ice is used. Whether it’s shaken or stirred, this one is usually served close to room temperature.
On the rocks — Shaken or stirred, this is a martini poured over ice into a rocks glass. As the ice melts, it will dilute the potency of the cocktail.
Bruised — A martini shaken so vigorously, that little tiny ice chips float on top. Shaking the ice also dilutes the mixture just a bit, so this is great for anyone who finds martinis a bit strong.
Dirty — A dirty martini has a splash of olive brine added to the drink and is garnished with an olive. Order it ‘very dirty’ and you’ll get extra olive brine and extra olives.
With a twist — This one will come with a twist of thinly-sliced lemon peel. Be sure to specify if you’d prefer not to get a skewer with an olive on it.
Alternatives to the martini
As with all classic cocktails, there are a few variations that turn into totally different drinks.
Vodka martini — If you’re not a gin fan, you can opt for vodka in lieu of gin. James Bond is also a vodka martini fan, so you’ll be in good company here.
Gibson — Garnish the martini with a cocktail onion and it becomes a Gibson. Also, it’s often made with Plymouth gin.
Martinez — This is the drink that inspired the martini. Make one with 2 ounces gin + 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth + 1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur + a dash of Angostura bitters + a lemon twist for garnish.
Marguerite — Equal parts gin and dry vermouth and a dash of orange bitters, the Marguerite is served with a lemon twist for garnish.
French martini — A fruity cocktail, this one’s a mixture of vodka, pineapple juice and crème de cassis, which is a sweet, dark red liqueur made from blackcurrants.
Vesper — Another James Bond favorite, this one is shaken with 3 ounces gin, 1 ounce of vodka and 1/4 ounce Lillet Blonde and garnished with a thin slice of lemon peel.
Rob Roy — More of a cousin to the Manhattan than the Martini, this one is worth a mention for whiskey drinkers who’d like to foray into martinis — or martini drinks who’d like to try whiskey. Make it with 1 ounce sweet vermouth, 1 1/2 ounces Scotch whiskey and a dash of Angostura bitters, served straight up or mixed in a rocks glass, with a garnish of a Maraschino cherry or a lemon twist.
Me? I’ll take a very dirty martini, bruised, with extra olives. (Actually, you can just give me the whole jar of olives on the side, please and thank you.) // susannah