How To Make A Classic Martini - Mastering The King of Cocktails
Spare me the lecture - Jump to the recipe Ah, the Martini. A staple of any competent bartender's recipe book, the Martini is also among the most famous cocktails globally, having been showcased in popular cinema such as James Bond, who infamously ordered his Martini shaken rather than stirred. It is definitely the king of all iconic cocktails. A classic Martini, on paper at least, a simple cocktail. But the practice of actually making a great martini requires a little more deftness than one may initially think. Its mastery comes from an understanding of the perfect balance and mixing of its ingredients. That said, once mastered, it's one of the most flexible and fun drinks one can mix, allowing for a great deal of variation. Interestingly enough, though, Martini's are a topic of dispute among mixologists and bartenders and can rarely agree on a single definitive way to make them. Do you use Gin or Vodka, Lemon or Olives, Double strained or ice or etcetera, etcetera. There is a ton of versatility to be found with this elegant cocktail, which is why it's always best to start with the foundations of a simple Martini so that you can better understand how when to add your own flair. But first, A little History!
A Brief History of the Martini
Interestingly enough, the drink's origin story is as disputed as which alcohol to mix it with. As it stands, there are multiple prevailing theories on the subject. One such notable tale is based on a Gold-Rush era miner celebrating his victories in a local bar, with the bartender mixed the drink to compensate for the lack of champagne that evening. Another, albeit less exciting version, is that the beverage was named after "Martini & Rossi" Vermouth, which came to the scene in the mid1800s. Depending on your perspective, the Martini was originally predicated by either the "Fancy Gin Cocktail" of the 1850s or the "Martinez"(which eventually became the Manhattan). Some people say it was first crafted in San Francisco, others say New York, but despite the dispute the definitively the drink started appearing in Bartending manuals as early as 1884. An interesting note in the evolution of the Martini is that as time passed into the 1900s, they became progressively dryer.
Gin Or Vodka?
Now that we've had a little backstory on our beverage of choice, let's dive into our first order of business, Do you make your Martini with gin or vodka? As with almost all food and beverage, it'll come down to your personal preference. However, while there can be no denying that a nice, high-quality vodka Martini is smooth and sophisticated, Martini's indisputably began with gin, and a gin Martini is going to be guaranteed to offer you a complex, botanical, and aromatic experience.
Stirred Not Shaken
Again, when it comes to cocktails and mixed drinks, it, of course, is going to fall to personal preference ultimately. Still, at the risk of fanning the flames of controversy, there is a definitively correct way to make a Martini - and that is stirred. This is because, while shaking, your drink will blend, and ultimately when Ice is shaken, you end up diluting your beverage to a greater extent. As a result, you damage the flavor profile due to both the greater chill and greater water volume. The texture of a martini is also thrown for a loop, with its silky, velvety presence soiled by tiny air bubbles. This, of course, isn't to say that all cocktails or even all Martini Variations must be stirred, but if you're talking about making a canonical classic Martini, there is only one true answer. Sorry, not sorry, James.
Classic Gin Martini Recipe
At last, we've arrived our destination! For best results, please be sure to check out the tips below.
Mixing Glass or Cocktail Shaker
Martini or Coup Glass
2 1/2 ounces of high-quality Gin
1 ounce of dry Vermouth
1 Dash of Aromatic Orange Bitters (Optional)
Ice, regular or crushed
Stick your Martini glass in the freezer or chill with ice and a small amount of water
Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with Ice.
Add Vodka, Vermouth, and Bitters to the cocktail shaker or mixing glass
With Barspoon, stir for thirty seconds
Remove Chilled Martini Glass from the freezer or empty glass of ice
Strain and pour mixed Martini into Glass
Run the inside of the lemon twist along the rim of the glass to capture a hint of lemon, then place the garnish and serve
Martini Mixing Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
Check your Vermouth! - Many people forget Vermouth is still wine and thus can go bad! When kept cool, Vermouth generally will last up to 3 weeks, so make sure to keep this in mind before you begin mixing! This little fact can quietly sabotage many a Martini.
Ice Cold Baby! - Cocktails should be served cold! The Martini especially should be served in a chilled glass, and most bars will have a couple stashed away for exactly this reason. Additionally, be sure to use small or crushed Ice when mixing as it will make for better circulation as you stir!
The perfect Martini is about balance! - There are a million recipes out there for this simple drink, all with slight variations and amounts. Crafting the perfect Martini for the occasion is ultimately about mastering the balance of flavors, so don't be shy about adjusting the amounts until they taste just right for you!