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How To Make A Martini - The History Of Martinis Recipes & The Process

by Justin Croxton June 02, 2016

How To Make A Martini - The History Of Martinis Recipes & The Process

Among thousands of cocktail recipes scattered around all the best -and worst- restaurants and bars all over the world, the martini remains the most well known and iconic cocktail ever made.

Maybe it's that James Bond drinking scenes (well, the older ones at least, with Daniel Craig's moving to whiskeys), perhaps it's that Ernest Hemingway's catchphrase in a Farewell to Arms. Maybe, it's that iconic, eye turning martini glass. Or perhaps, it's that class, mystique, and delicacy that surrounds the drink itself.

History of how it was found also shrouded in mystery, with nobody exactly sure when and where it originated. Whole books have been written about the drinks, with many versions, backstories, and myths.What everyone would agree upon, though, is that Martini originated in the U.S. during the late 19th century.

An American invention dubbed the only perfect American invention ever made, made popular by a fictional Englishman, what's not to like about the drink? But what actually defines a Martini?

What Actually is the Martini?

The original Martini, famous in the early 1900s, is a combination of dry gin with dry vermouth with 2:1 ratio. Stirred or shaken (we all remember than Bond phrase don't we?) with ice cubes. The original garnish varies from orange to various aromatic bitters but evolves over time to the green olive or lemon peel we know nowadays.

Over the years, the Martini become drier and drier with the vermouth ratio dropping as much as 50:1 to 100:1. Many variations of the drink also arose, some without all the characteristics of the old martini, making the name "Martini" seemingly replacing the word 'cocktail". An Italian vermouth brand (and a rather famous one) even called itself "Martini.'
Still, let's go back to the roots and discuss the classic martini recipes, shall we?

Making Your Perfect Dry Martini

The trickiest part of making a classic Dry Martini is the mystery of its simplicity. It's so simple with only three basic ingredients, yet so deceptively complex.

Dry Martini Ingredients

  • 125ml Dry Gin
  • 25ml dry vermouth
  • 1 cocktail olive or lemon
  • 1 Martini Glass

The first trick to a perfect Martini is a chilled glass, preferably straight out from the freezer. The second one is the quality of the ingredients. With the drink being so simple, low-quality ingredients can be tasted instantly. There are many good brands of dry gin and vermouth. For Gin, we preferred Beefeater, Bombay Dry, or Tanqueray. For the Vermouth, the brands of our choosing are Noilly Prat or Martini Dry Rosso.

Directions On How To Make A Martini

1.  Crack the Ice

Hold an ice cube, use a spoon (preferably bar spoon but any will suffice) to crack the ice into small pieces. Put the cracked ice into a mixing glass or shaker and repeat until it's filled.

2.  A Smooth Mix

Add the gin and vermouth in any order. The art of the dry martini is to tailor it according to the drinker's needs. On a tough day, dryer martinis with less vermouth will do the job. However, wetter martinis will be perfect for a relaxed day. Dryer martini will go better with olive garnish, and wetter ones with lemon peel. But again, there is no set rule in art, isn't it?

3.  Shaken or stirred, sir?

Some will prefer shaken martini; some will prefer stirred ones. Even Bond and Dr.NO had a disagreement over this one. Shaking the martini will break the ice, and dilutes the martini with water. It softens the spirits that lead to a richer, softer taste of the ingredients.

Stirring will cause fewer dilution, and the alcohol will be stronger. To stir, rapidly stir 50 times in a circular motion, avoid hand contact with the shaker or stirring glass to avoid transference of heat from your palm. Use only small part of your thumb to stabilize the glass during stirring.

4. Strain That Martini

Use a strainer which fits over the top of a shaker or mixing glass. If you don't have any, a slotted spoon will do. Strain the martini into the martini glass.


An olive garnish is simple enough.You can put just one inside the martini or two/three in a skewer style garnish.  A lemon peel garnish, however, is another art upon itself.

Do the Lemon Twist

  1. Peel the lemon; you'll need roughly 1" of a peel. Include the white part.
  2. Squeeze peel with a distance of 4"-5" from the glass. This way you'll express the sweeter oils to the drink while the heavier, bitter ones won't spill to the glass.
  3. Rub the peel around the rim of the glass, float it on top of the cocktail with the yellow side up.

Making a Dirty Martini

Dirty Martini utilized olive juice or olive brine to make the martini a little 'dirtier'. The difference to classic dry martini is that it can also use Vodka instead of Gin as the main ingredient. Any brand of Vodka will do, but higher quality ones like GreyGoose, Ciroc, Belvedere, or the more premium ones will ensure better taste.

Martini Ingredients

  • 2.5 oz Gin or vodka
  • 0.5 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 0.5 oz Olive brine or Olive Juice
  • Garnish: 1 Olives

Directions are roughly the same with the Dry Martini. As always, the key is to balance the Gin/Vodka, Vermouth, and Olive brine ratio to tailor the drinker's needs.

Bonus: The Vesper Martini

Invented by James Bond, um, to be more accurate by Ian Fleming in 1953 Bond novel Casino Royale. The Vesper Martini is one with mysticism surrounding it. But is it actually drinkable? Let's try for ourselves, shall we?

By Bond's Words Itself On His Favorite Martini:

  • "Three measures of Gordon's"
  • 60ml gin
  • Gordon's recipe are revised nowadays, so Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, American Beefeater, or Broker's gin will achieve the job better.  An exported 47,3% of Gordon's is still available, but very rare.
  • "One of vodka"
  • 20ml vodka; back in 1953 when the novel was written, vodkas are heavier with 50% alcohol. If you can get vodkas that can do the job, you can achieve the original Bond recipe.
  • "half a measure of Kina Lillet"
  • 10ml Lillet Blanc,Campari,Cocchi Americano; Since Kina Lillet is discontinued, Cocchi Americano has the closest taste to the original Kina Lillet.

As per Bond's words, shake the ingredients with ice in a shaker. Strain into a chilled martini glass; for a closer Bond feel, use a champagne goblet if you can.

Finish with the lemon twist garnish with the steps we've discussed above.

Congratulations, you just got your license to kill a martini.

Justin Croxton
Justin Croxton