But not just any drink – the best drink.

Let’s have a martini 1

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A martini is cold and crisp. It is smooth, floral, and herbal — but strong. It is sophisticated. It is modern. It is classic. It is the only drink which exists as a semiotic reference to itself, whether flickering neon or friendly emoji.

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Real martinis are made with gin!
Accept no substitutes.

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For a traditional “up” martini…

You will need:

  • Something to mix in. This can be a cocktail shaker or a pint glass.
  • Something to stir with. A bar spoon, a regular spoon, a single chopstick, or a deft swirling motion
  • Something to strain with. A bar strainer, a mesh strainer, or a big fork will do.
  • A 3-4oz cocktail glass. Bigger is too big. If you want 6 ounces of booze, have two martinis.
  • A volume measure. A jigger bar measure or a graduated measuring cup.

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For a lazy hot bath / hot-tub rocks martini…

You will need:

  • A 4-5oz rocks glass or similar
  • Something to stir with. A bar spoon, a regular spoon, a single chopstick, or a deft swirling motion
  • A volume measure. A jigger bar measure or a graduated measuring cup.
  • A nice magazine to read while in the tub


  • Ice (very cold, straight from the freezer, dry to the touch. Should freeze right to wet fingers)
  • Decent quality gin (see notes on gin)
  • The best dry vermouth you can afford (see notes on vermouth)
  • A garnish: a brined green olive or a slice of lemon peel.


The ratio of gin to vermouth is the defining, critical part of a martini. Stray from these recommendations at your peril.


1 part gin to 1 part vermouth

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Old school

2 parts gin to 1 part vermouth

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3 parts gin to 1 part vermouth

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4 parts gin to 1 part vermouth

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Extra dry


5 parts gin to 1 part vermouth

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Extra hard day

The method


For a martini “up”

This is completely optional, but consider rinsing and chilling your cocktail glass in the freezer for about 10 minutes before you begin. Professionals keep at least one cocktail glass in the freezer at all times for martini emergencies.

  1. Fill your mixing vessel with very cold ice.
  2. Measure 1 part vermouth and pour over the ice
  3. Measure 3 to 5 parts gin and pour over the ice
  4. Stir gently for 45 seconds. It should be very cold.
  5. Strain into your (chilled) cocktail glass.
  6. Garnish

If garnishing with a lemon peel, give the peel a little twist right over the drink and rub the peel around the lip of the glass. This makes everything smell a little lemony and makes you look fancy. If you didn’t want to look fancy, you wouldn’t be drinking a martini. Don’t lie.

For a rocks martini

If you have one of those extra-large ice cube trays for making giant ice cubes, this is a good opportunity to use it.

  1. Fill your rocks glass with very cold ice.
  2. Measure 1 to 2 parts vermouth over the ice.
  3. Measure 1 to 3 parts gin over the ice
  4. Stir gently (perhaps with a fingertip)
  5. Garnish

Don’t spill in the tub.




A martini garnished with a pickled cocktail onion is known as a “Gibson”. The onion has a nice grumpy gramps quality to it which will scare away your wife when you try to smooch her.

A martini with equal parts sweet vermouth and dry vermouth is a “perfect martini” and is lovely, if unexpected. Garnish with a citrus peel.

Old Tom style gin makes an interesting martini. Try using Old Tom in a perfect martini before growing out your handlebar mustache.

If you have any citrus bitters around - lemon, grapefruit, etc - try adding a drop (literally one drop) on top of your martini after straining into the cocktail glass. The citrus aroma is quite nice with the herbal and floral qualities of the gin.

Notes on gin

If you are new to martinis I recommend starting with a standard “neutral“ gin. Something that will taste of juniper, be fragrant, but not be too overpowering. Gordon’s, New Amsterdam, Beefeater, Tanqueray are all good choices. Bombay is fine, but overpriced.

Once you’re ready to explore, try some more flavorful gins. Hendrick’s cucumber infused gin is lovely in a martini. Aviation’s strong pine flavor makes a good gibson.

Notes on vermouth

Vermouth is a fortified wine, infused with wormwood and other herbal, botanical, aromatic goodies. For a classic martini, choose a dry (pale) vermouth. You should be prepared to spend as much on a bottle of vermouth as you would a bottle of wine for dinner. It’s better to be cheap with your gin than your vermouth. Since vermouth is a small percentage of a traditional martini, it goes far. Although vermouth is fortified, its alcohol content isn’t high enough to prevent spoilage. So after opening, keep your vermouth in the refrigerator (unless you’re going to use it all in a couple of weeks).

My favorite vermouth is Dolin Dry, followed closely by Noilly Prat. Cinzano is fine as well. When you’re ready to experiment, try Dolin Blanc - a little sweet in comparison to their dry but only a little. I have also enjoyed Imbue, a bittersweet vermouth from the Pacific NW.

What about Vodka?

Well comrade…

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What about Vodka Martinis?

You may have heard of a so-called “vodka martini” popularized by the murderous misogynist James Bond. Remember, James Bond is a fictional character and he drinks fictional cocktails.

There is no such thing as a Vodka Martini But I don’t like gin! Then you don’t like martinis.

But I like vodka! Vodka is precisely distilled to be colorless, odorless, and tasteless(2). Good vodka is very nearly pure ethanol and water(3). Vodka works beautifully in fruity drinks and savory sauces (Lemon Drops, Cosmos, Vodka-cream sauce) because it doesn’t taste like anything (except booze and burning). The alcohol breaks down the fruit, lemons or tomatoes in this example, enhancing their flavor. Well chilled vodka, on the rocks or as a shot, is bracing and pleasant.

This is all lovely. But it’s not a martini. A martini is the delicate blend of gin, dry vermouth, and ice. Vermouth and vodka? Tastes like diluted vermouth. Vodka chilled with ice? Not a cocktail. Not even a highball. Certainly not a martini.

If you like vodka, just drink vodka.

But the martini glass is so pretty! It’s a cocktail glass. But fine. Whatever. Here’s how to make a fraudulent “vodka martini:”

1. Fill a cocktail shaker with cold, dry ice (not sloppy half melted wet ice) 2. Measure 3 ounces of your favorite vodka into the shaker 3. Close the shaker tightly and shake the holy bejeezus out of it for 45 seconds - it must be very cold 4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass 5. Garnish

Vodka martinis in particular shouldn’t be very big. If the drink is too big, it will just get warm before it is finished. Then you’ll just have warm vodka.

Garnish with what? Since the vodka martini is a fraud, why not keep up the deception with an olive?

You’re mean! Yes. Facts are mean.

        <li id="fn:1">
            <p><a href="http://www.rdwarf.com/users/mink/martinifaq.html">This is the most comprehensive web page on martinis ever.</a></p>
        <li id="fn:2">
            <p>Vodka is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Just like people who drink vodka martinis.</p>
        <li id="fn:3">
            <p>People who claim that they can tell the difference between potato and grain vodka are mistaken. </p>