How to Make Different Types of Martinis

Karen Frazier
How to Make a Martini

Making a martini is a fairly simple process, but as most bartenders discover, people are often picky and specific about how they'd like their martini made. The basics of good martini making are outlined below, but it's important to discuss with the martini drinker what their preferences are when it comes to creating the perfect martini for them.

A Martini Defined

People have different ideas of what a martini even is. Purists are very specific about the martini, while some people take a more liberal view of what can be in this popular cocktail.

Classic Martinis

To purists, classic martini is made from dry gin and dry vermouth, stirred with ice, strained, served straight up in a martini glass, and garnished with an unstuffed Spanish olive.

Gin martinis on blue background
  • Replacing the olive with a cocktail onion turns it into a Gibson.
  • Replacing the gin with vodka is acceptable, and it remains a martini but becomes a vodka martini.
  • Adding a splash of olive brine makes it a dirty martini.
  • Using gin and vodka and replacing dry vermouth with Lillet Blanc makes 007's preferred vesper martini.

Modern Conceptualizations of Martinis

In modern times, some mixologists and cocktail drinkers have taken a slightly more liberal twist on the martini, and some people believe anything shaken or stirred, strained, and served straight up in a chilled martini glass is a martini. This includes popular modern drinks such as the Cosmopolitan and the appletini, which purists would never dream of calling a martini.

Basic Rules of Martini Making

Regardless of whether you believe in the most purist form of martini or you take a more liberal approach, there are some basic rules of good martini making.

Alcohol Used in Classic Martinis

  • Classic martinis use London dry gin or vodka and dry vermouth.
  • Classic martinis can contain anywhere from a splash of dry vermouth to up to half gin and half vermouth.
  • The more vermouth that is used, the wetter the martini is. The less vermouth that is used, the drier it is.

Martini Size

  • A classic martini or one made from straight spirits is 3 ounces.
  • Martinis that contain other ingredients such as juices can be up to 5 ounces.

Glassware for Martinis

  • Martinis are served in a classic martini glass.
  • The glass should be chilled, either by placing in a chiller or freezer before making the drink or by filling with ice water and letting it sit as you make the drink.
Martini glass on black background

Stirring Versus Shaking

There's a lot of debate about whether martinis should be stirred or shaken. Most experts agree to the following rules:

  • If a martini contains only spirits (such as a classic martini or a vodka martini), it should be stirred in a mixing glass with ice for about one minute.
  • If a martini contains fruit juices, it needs to be shaken in a cocktail shaker with ice for about 10 seconds to mix the ingredients properly.

Straining

Regardless of whether you stir or shake a martini, you need to strain it into the chilled cocktail glass. It is served straight up with no ice, although some people want the bartender to ease off on the strainer a bit so it contains slivers of ice.

Martini Garnish

Classically, a martini is garnished with an olive, but different martinis do have different garnishes.

Spanish olives

Some martini garnishes for classic and modern martinis include the following:

  • Spanish olive
  • Stuffed olives
  • Cocktail onion
  • Citrus peel
  • Wedge or wheel of citrus
  • Fresh fruit

Ask What the Cocktail Drinker Wants

With all this in mind, people can be quite specific about how they like their martini, what it contains, whether you shake or stir it, and how you garnish it. It's a cocktail that requires discussion before you make it, so always ask questions to ensure you're making the martini the drinker wants instead of the one that best suits your style.

9 Recipes for Popular Classic Martinis

Making a martini is not difficult, and there are different martinis that you might want to learn about. There is the classic martini but beyond that, the sky's the limit! With a little skill, you'll soon be mixing up martinis in all sorts of flavors and coming up with your own winning combinations. Why not develop your own signature martini recipes?

1. Classic Martini

The stirred martini is a classic cocktail. Once you've learned how to make a martini, you'll be able to have one whenever you want.

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounces London dry gin
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • Ice
  • Spanish olive

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the gin and vermouth.
  3. Add the ice and stir for about one minute.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with an olive.

2. Classic Vodka Martini

If you like vodka, you'll love the vodka martini. It's less aromatic and more neutrally flavored than a classic martini, but for many people, it's their go-to martini. Since vodka is the star here, use the best vodka you can afford.

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounces premium vodka
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • Ice
  • Spanish olive

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the vodka and vermouth.
  3. Add the ice and stir for about one minute.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with an olive.

3. Dirty Martini

Some folks like their martinis dirty; this means the brine from the olives is added to the drink, giving it a dirty look.

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounces London dry gin or premium vodka
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • Splash of olive juice
  • Ice
  • Stuffed olive

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin or vodka and vermouth.
  3. Add the ice and stir for about one minute.
  4. Add the olive juice.
  5. Shake for 10 seconds.
  6. Strain into the chilled glass.
  7. Garnish with the stuffed olive.

4. Gibson

The Gibson is a twist on the classic martini; only the garnish changes.

Gibson cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounces London dry gin
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • Ice
  • Cocktail onion

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the gin and vermouth.
  3. Add the ice and stir for about one minute.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with a cocktail onion.

5. Saketini

Why not try a little Japanese flair with your martini, by making a saketini? This tasty cocktail is a great drink to serve with Asian food.

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounces London dry gin or vodka
  • ½ ounce sake
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the gin or vodka and sake.
  3. Add the ice and stir for about one minute.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with a lemon peel.

6. Sherrytini

Like the saketini, the Sherrytini is a twist on the classic, in this case the classic vodka martini.

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounces vodka
  • ½ ounce fino Sherry
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the vodka and Sherry.
  3. Add the ice and stir for about one minute.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with an orange peel.

7. Appletini

If you don't care for the stronger-tasting martini drinks, why not try a frillier version that's a little sweeter? The appletini might be right up your alley with its sweet-tart flavors.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces apple schnapps
  • Ice
  • Apple slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the vodka and apple schnapps.
  3. Add the ice and stir for one minute.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with the apple slice.

8. Chocolate Martini

A chocolate martini might just be the perfect drink if you're craving chocolate and a cocktail at the same time. This simple drink can be whipped up in a matter of seconds, and it makes the perfect accompaniment for your ladies' night mixer.

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounces vanilla vodka
  • ½ ounce crème de cacao
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the vodka and crème de cacao.
  3. Add ice and stir.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass.

9. Rasberry Lemon Drop Martini

This martini is definitely on the sweeter side, but with raspberry liqueur and simple syrup added, it's sweet-tart instead of cloying.

raspberry lemon drop martini

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces citrus vodka
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • ¾ ounce simple syrup

  • ¾ ounce Chambord

  • Ice

  • Fresh raspberries for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and Chambord.
  3. Add the ice and shake for about 10 seconds.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

More Martini Style Cocktails

Whether you're a purist or prefer a more liberal interpretation of the martini, the following recipes are delicious and easy to make.

Jolly Rancher martinis

Find Your Martini Favorite

As you can see, there are many ways to make a martini. Hone your technique with the classic martini, and then give the other recipes a try.

How to Make Different Types of Martinis