A Martini can be made a number of ways, but a traditional martini is a cocktail made with gin and dry vermouth, not vodka.
A video discussing how to make a “perfect martini”, not exactly traditional, but close and probably more attuned to the modern tastes.
How to Make a Traditional Martini
To make a traditional Martini:
- Chill glass (with ice-water or in fridge)
- 2 parts dry gin
- 1 part dry vermouth
- Mix gin and vermouth mixture, chill with ice (shaken or stirred)
- Pour chilled mixture into a chilled glass
- Garnish with an olive, lemon peel, or cherry. We suggest a lemon peel. Squeeze the oil from the lemon peel in the martini, rub the oil around the rim, and place lemon peel in the glass.
Note: The key to the traditional martini is dry gin and dry vermouth. Vermouth can be challenging to a newcomer’s taste buds, consider a 4:1 ratio or more.
Vodka or Gin?
A traditional martini uses gin (London dry gin), but a modern martini can use gin or vodka.
Should a Martini Have Vermouth?
A traditional martini would use dry vermouth in about a 2:1 ratio (2 parts London dry gin, 1 part dry vermouth). Since the popularization of the martini in the 1920’s the amount of vermouth steadily dropped, and sweet vermouth was sometimes substituted for dry.
During the 1930s the ratio was 3:1, and during the 1940s the ratio was 4:1. During the latter part of the 20th century, 6:1, 8:1, 12:1, or even 50:1 or 100:1 martinis became considered the norm.
What Garnish Should be Used?
Rumor has it that the original martini used a cherry. Despite this, the drink has commonly employed an olive or lemon peel (for the oil).
Shaken Not Stirred?
James Bond famously orders his martinis shaken not stirred (shaken not stirred means it’s shaken with ice and not stirred with ice in the glass). Bond was right the ingredients should be mixed with ice and poured (into a chilled “martini glass”). Bond also drank his martini with a twist of lemon peel, this is correct. However, Bond drinks a vodka martini. Therefore, Bond does not drink a traditional martini, but rather a modern iteration fitting of his time.
Where Did the Martini Come From?
No one knows, likely the martini originated sometime in the early 1860s at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, which people frequented before taking an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez. Probably, like most drinks, the martini is simply subject to the multiple discovery theory (discoveries and inventions are discovered or invented by multiple people independently during the same time period).
The Modern Martini
Today there are countless ways to make a martini. Modern martinis typically drop the vermouth and focus on exploration, perhaps using apple liquor for an “appletini”. If you would like a traditional martini outside of a speakeasy, you should specify what sort of martini you are ordering.
A video by Jamie Oliver showing off versions of the modern martini (notice even his “classic” uses vodka and a small amount of vermouth, which is typically in modern times).