Martini cocktail

Martini

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This classic cocktail features gin and dry vermouth, served with a garnish. Find out the traditional ingredients and how to make the perfect martini at home.

What is a martini?

This most famed of alcoholic drinks is a mixture of gin and dry vermouth, itself a herby-spicy aperitif, originally from Italy. And there the complications begin. Quite which gin and quite what proportion of vermouth has been, and will be, a constant pursuit; the goal is a martini cocktail that is exactly what you want it to be. Some add a good slug of vermouth, some add a mixture of dry and sweet (red) vermouth and others argue for a proportion of 3:1, 5:2, 5:1, 7:1 ad infinitum. Whatever proportion of one to the other that you choose is correct.

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If you order a dry or a very dry martini cocktail it should come with very little detectable vermouth.

Learn how to make the best martini.

How to make a martini

Martini cocktails, dry or otherwise, should be ordered with an olive or with a twist – a sliver of lemon zest that is twisted directly over the cocktail after it has been decanted into the glass, which coats the surface with a veil of lemon oil. The classic V-shaped glass with a wide mouth is part of the martini cocktail ritual; perhaps this is because you must be very careful to hold it firmly and not to spill.

There are many variations, some old, some new. A dash of orange bitters was once common and is highly recommended: a dirty martini has a splash of the salty water in which olives are stored. A 21st century version might use English pink gin, in which raspberries have macerated to give colour and taste.

See our martini recipes.

How to store a martini

Actually, a pre-mixed martini cocktail stores remarkably well and does not deteriorate even if transported in a Thermos flask. Yet somehow it tastes better for you having heard it shaken with ice and then poured and sipped at once.

Where to buy a martini

Wherever there is gin and vermouth and ice.

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The best is entirely up to you, according to the style of gin you like best. There are also variations of dry vermouth. But a martini cocktail must be shaken with ice and served in a chilled glass. Straight up means served without ice in the glass; on the rocks means there will be ice in the glass.