Though the drink itself is the epitome of effortless cool, the Martini’s history is full of frenzy and dispute. Some say it’s a bastardized Martinez, a drink created at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco for a flush gold miner who demanded a drink be named in his honor. Others say it was immaculately conceived at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel. Either way, by the 1920s, the Martini had a clear definition: two-to-one gin to vermouth, orange bitters, no garnish. In other words, it was nothing like the one we know today. By the 1990s, it became trendy to hate on vermouth. Hedge fund managers began proudly ordering “bone dry” Martinis, where the bartender simply rolls his eyes at the vermouth before putting gin and ice in his tin. The recipe below lies between these margins. After all, a Martini is gin and vermouth, not just chilled gin. If you have access to a good, fresh dry vermouth, we recommend trying the original ratios. (But remember that dry vermouth goes bad almost as fast as wine. Buy small bottles, refrigerate after opening and replace every four weeks.)
A quick note on the glass: While a Martini glass (aka a cocktail glass) is traditional, we find that it can be unwieldy. If you would prefer to keep your cocktail in your glass rather than have it wind up in your lap, opt instead for a coupe glass, which is much easier to maneuver.
Mix it Up
Recommended Gins for Martinis: Beefeater, Tanqueray, Plymouth, Aviation, Ford’s Gin, Greenhook Ginsmith Dry, Makar. Want to get weird? Try Greenhook Ginsmith’s Old Tom Gin or Ransom Cellars Old Tom.
Recommended Martini Vermouths: Dolin Dry, Noilly Prat,Vervino Vermouth, Channing Daughters Vermouth, Cocchi Americano, Salers Aperitif
Recommended Garnishes for Martinis: Superstitious bartenders will tell you to garnish with either one or three olives. Any more or less is bad luck (and the sign of a mawkish disposition). Garnish your Martini with cocktail onions and it is transformed… poof!... into a Gibson. If you decided to go old school and throw a couple dashes of orange bitters into your gin and vermouth, garnish with a lemon twist to bring out all of those lovely citrus notes.
Martini Variations: For a Dirty Martini, reduce the gin by half an ounce and replace it with a half ounce of olive juice. For a Dry Martini, cut the vermouth down to a quarter ounce. For a Reverse Martini (aka a Wet Martini), scale the vermouth up to two ounces and the gin down to one. And if you’re interested in a Perfect Martini (with a capital P), break out that bottle of sweet vermouth and give your cocktail some color.
Not everyone is a fan of gin’s heavy botanical flavors—and that’s fine. There’s no shame in loving a Vodka Martini, no matter what the haters might say. The original Gin Martini was invented sometime in the early 20th century, though where exactly it was created is still up for debate (some say at the Occidental Hotel in San Franc...