A classic martini is made with dry gin, dry vermouth, ice, and olives. Contrary to what James Bond preferred, to make the classic martini, always stir it instead of shaking and strain it into a chilled martini glass.
Required Equipment and Ingredients to Make a Classic Martini
To make a classic martini, you'll need the following equipment and ingredients.
- London dry gin
- Dry vermouth
- Spanish olives or lemon twists for garnish
- Mixing glass
- Bar spoon
- Cocktail strainer
- Chilled martini glass
Classic Martini Recipe
Recipes for a classic martini vary based on how dry the drinker prefers it. Some martinis are so dry they have just a hint of vermouth or, in the case of Winston Churchill, straight chilled gin. For a wetter martini, you can add more vermouth. This recipe makes one classic martini cocktail.
- 2½ ounces of London dry gin
- 1 barspoon of dry vermouth
- Spanish olive(s) for garnish
- Chill a martini glass.
- In a mixing glass, combine the gin and vermouth.
- Add the ice and stir until chilled, about 30 to 60 seconds.
- Strain into the chilled martini glass.
- Garnish with the Spanish olive.
Adjusting Your Martini for Dryness
You can adjust the proportions of gin and vermouth for a wetter or drier martini.
Make a Wet Martini
The wettest martini is a 1:1 ratio of dry gin to dry vermouth. So in this recipe, it would be 1¼ ounce each of gin and vermouth. Stir in a mixing glass with the ice and strain into your chilled martini glass.
Spritz Method for a Dry Martini
For a very dry martini, put the vermouth in a spray bottle and spritz the glass lightly. Then, stir 2 ounces of gin with the ice in a mixing glass to chill it and strain it into the prepared martini glass.
Vermouth Scented Dry Martini
You can also scent the martini with vermouth while still keeping it dry by stirring ½ ounce of vermouth with ice in a mixing glass for 30 seconds. Pour the vermouth through a strainer and discard it while keeping the ice. Add 2½ ounces of gin to the vermouth-scented ice and stir to chill for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Glass Rinsing Method for Making a Dry Martini
Glass rinsing is another way to just scent the martini with vermouth while keeping it bone dry. To do this, after your glass is chilled, add 1 tablespoon of dry vermouth and swish it around the martini glass to coat it. Dump out the vermouth. In a mixing glass, stir 2½ ounces of gin with the ice to chill, and then strain it into the prepared glass.
Shaking Versus Stirring Martinis
Classic martinis are always stirred. There are a few reasons you want to stir instead of shake a classic martini:
- The purpose of shaking is to aerate, chill, and mix cocktails while the purpose of stirring is to chill and mix. Shaking and stirring create a different mouthfeel when using the same ingredients.
- The only cocktails that require shaking are those that contain fruit juices - particularly citrus. Shaking aerates these cocktails and mixes the alcohol with the juice.
- Dry martinis contain only spirits and therefore benefit from stirring over shaking. Stirring keeps the texture of the cocktail silky due to lack of aeration and waters the cocktail down less. This results in a more pleasing mouthfeel and flavor.
- Other martinis that should be stirred and not shaken include the Gibson, the vesper martini, the cucumber martini, and the vodka martini.
- If you prefer your martini with small shards of ice in it, then shake it in a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Strain into your chilled glass using a Hawthorne strainer, allowing just enough tension so a few shards of ice can slip through.
- If your martini contains brine (such as a dirty martini) or citrus juices (such as martini style cocktails like the lemon drop or a cosmopolitan), then shaking in a cocktail shaker is required to mix the juice and the spirits.
How to Stir a Martini
Therefore, essential equipment when making a classic martini is the cocktail mixing glass. This can be a pint glass, or it may be a mixing glass with a slight spout for pouring. To stir a martini:
- Measure your ingredients into the mixing glass before adding ice.
- Add the ice so the mixing glass is half full.
- Insert a long handled barspoon with the back of the bowl of the spoon against the side of the mixing glass.
- Use a push and pull motion to stir the spoon around the edge of the mixing glass with the back of the bowl against the edge of the glass.
- Stir for 30 to 60 seconds until the drink is mixed and chilled.
Best Ice for Making a Martini
The best ice for making a martini is to use small to medium-sized ice cubes. Cubes melt more slowly than crushed ice but chill just as well, and they don't leave shards in the drink. They also water it down less.
Classic Martini Garnishes
The classic garnish for a martini is one, two, or three Spanish olives, but a few other garnishes may be acceptable, as well.
- Garnish with a lemon twist or a citrus peel.
- Garnish with a cocktail onion to make a Gibson.
How to Chill Your Martini Glass
There are two ways you can chill your martini glass so it's nice and frosty by the time you strain the martini into it.
- Place the glass in the freezer or a glass chiller for about an hour prior to making your drink.
- Before mixing the drink, fill the glass with crushed ice and a splash of water and let it sit while you prepare the cocktail. Dump out the ice water when you're ready to strain the drink into it.
Different People Like Different Martinis
Whenever someone asks you to make them a martini, it's always helpful to have a discussion about personal preferences. Because people like different proportions of gin to vermouth and different garnishes, finding out exactly what the person requesting the martini likes is the best way to make them a cocktail they'll love.