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A Beginner’s Guide To Making The Perfect Martini

Perfect Martini

The martini, a classic with an undeniable air of sophistication and timeless appeal, has long held its place as a beloved cocktail. Whether you're sipping one at a high-end cocktail bar or shaking it up at home, mastering the art of creating the perfect martini is a skill worth having. 

But even though at first glance it seems like a simple ask, there are many nuances to consider when crafting the perfect martini and with its long history, it's a cocktail that demands the best treatment. 

History Of The Martini

Like so many classic cocktails, the depths of the martini's origins are shrouded in mystery. But it's widely agreed that this iconic cocktail has a rich history dating back to the 19th century. The exact details of its creation may remain elusive, but its journey through time is undeniably fascinating.

One belief is that it’s a derivative of the Manhattan that was first called the Martinez. Another theory hails from Martinez California, where it’s though to have been created during the mid-1800s Gold Rush by one miner who – quite literally – struck gold. As the story goes, the newly rich fortune-hunter headed over to a local bar to celebrate. After finding out that they didn’t have any champagne, he insisted on creating something new from the alcohol on hand, mixing up gin, vermouth, bitters, maraschino liqueur, and a slice of lemon. And with that, the “The Martinez Special” was born. The miner then went on to recreate the drink in San Fransisco and from there, it spread until it first appeared in print in the Bartender’s Manual in the 1880s. 

Others say that it worked in reverse and bartender Jerry Thomas, of the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco first made this as early as the 1860s for travellers heading to the nearby city of Martinez. Whichever version you buy into, there’s no denying that its rise to fame was swift and it’s one that stuck.

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Tips To Make The Perfect Martini

Stir, Don’t Shake

While it’s tempting to quote 007 and order a martini “shaken, not stirred”, it’s worth noting that doing the reverse has its benefits. Stirring means the drink is not as diluted and it’s a much smoother final product. So for a traditional sip, avoid the shaker.

Gin Vs. Vodka

While both spirits are used frequently for a modern martini, gin is the historical precedent. If you do have a preference for vodka, then nobody is going to hold it against you, but if you want a classic cocktail, opt for gin. Or go wild and use both in a Vesper Martini. 

Don't Skip Vermouth

If vermouth is a new experience for you, it’s tempting to omit it, especially if you’re hesitant about mixing alcohols. But it’s an essential part of what makes a martini…a martini. So trust the process and try it out. 

Watch For The Balance

There’s very little room for error in a martini, since it has so few ingredients, this means you’ll have to resist the urge to add more elements (unless you’re making a flavoured martini of course). Stick to the proportions and keep it simple to truly emphasise the subtlety of this cocktail.

The Martini Glass

The presentation of a martini is as important as the drink itself. The slender stem and classic silhouette of the martini glass exude sophistication, and any alternative may not capture the same elegance. Additionally, chilling the glass in the freezer adds a delightful icy touch to savouring your drink.

5 Types Of Martini To Know

As part of its evolution, the martini has gone through many forms and there are now many beloved variations to be enjoyed. Here are 5 common types of martini that you can make at home. 

Gin Martini

1. Classic Gin Martini:

The classic, the gin martini is the embodiment of timeless elegance and shines with its simplicity. 

This drink serves two people.

Ingredients:

  • 75 ml gin
  • 15 ml dry vermouth
  • Lemon twist or olive for garnish

Directions:

  • Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  • Add gin and vermouth.
  • Stir well until chilled, then strain into a chilled martini glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist or olive.

Vodka Martini

2. Vodka Martini:

For vodka drinkers or those who prefer a smoother and milder flavour profile, the vodka martini is an excellent choice

This drink serves two people.

Ingredients:

  • 75 ml vodka
  • 15 ml dry vermouth
  • Lemon twist or olive for garnish

Directions:

  • Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  • Add vodka and vermouth.
  • Stir until well-chilled, then strain into a chilled martini glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist or olive.

Dirty Martini

3. Dirty Martini:

For an extra kick of flavour, the dirty martini is a salty and savoury delight.

This drink serves two people.

Ingredients:

  • 75 ml gin or vodka
  • 15 ml dry vermouth
  • 15 ml olive brine
  • Green olive for garnish

Directions:

  • Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  • Add gin or vodka, vermouth, and olive brine.
  • Stir until thoroughly chilled, then strain into a chilled martini glass.
  • Garnish with a green olive.

Espresso Martini

4. Espresso Martini:

The ultimate delight for coffee lovers, this caffeine-fuelled martini experience has been a modern-day hit that keeps going strong.

This drink serves two people.

Ingredients:

  • 45 ml vodka
  • 30 ml coffee liqueur
  • 30 ml freshly brewed espresso
  • 15 ml simple syrup
  • Coffee bean for garnish

Directions:

  • Fill a shaker with ice.
  • Add vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso, and simple syrup.
  • Shake vigorously until well-chilled, then strain into a chilled martini glass.
  • Garnish with a coffee bean.

Vesper Martini

5. Vesper Martini

The Vesper martini was made famous by James Bond in Ian Fleming's "Casino Royale," and is a sophisticated and bold choice featuring both gin and vodka. 

This drink serves two people.

Ingredients:

  • 90 ml gin
  • 30 ml vodka
  • 15 ml dry vermouth
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Directions:

  • Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  • Add gin, vodka, and vermouth
  • Stir until well-chilled, then strain into a chilled martini glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist.