Famed cocktail author David Wondrich once said of the Martini, "Where mystique and simplicity collide, you get religion." Such is true of this classic cocktail that requires only two ingredients, but divides families in its rules of preparation. Seemingly every Martini-lover, home bartender, and professional bartender has something to say about how Martinis should be made. If Martinis are new to you or you simply want to improve your home Martini, here are the three things you need to get started.
3 Things You Need to Know to Make Martinis
Martinis are all about simplicity and quality, so making a good one comes down to ingredients, tools, and technique.
Read up on what you need to know about these three components and then check out all the steps on how to make a classic Martini in our detailed cocktail lesson!
With a cocktail recipe that calls for just two ingredients, gin and vermouth, the quality of these two ingredients matter immensely.
Gin: A classic Martini calls for gin, a spirit full of botanical flavors that's most commonly associated with juniper. So start by picking out the best bottle of gin you can afford. Gin works and plays well with the herbal qualities of a classic martini's other main ingredient: dry vermouth.
Suggested gins: Beefeater, Plymouth Gin, Tanqueray, or Hendrick's
Vermouth: The is the other ingredient in a classic Martini. It's a type of fortified wine that comes in sweet and dry varieties. Dry vermouth is essential to making a Martini, so select a quality bottle. Store opened bottles of vermouth in the fridge to preserve their flavor, and discard after they've been open for three months or when they start to smell or taste like vinegar.
Suggested vermouths: Noilly Prat or Dolin
Prefer a vodka martini? The same rules apply for a vodka martini as they do for a gin martini. Use a quality liquor for a vodka martini with flavor.
Martinis usually draw to mind the iconic image of Bond's bartender shaking his Martini away, so you'd assume a cocktail shaker is an essential tool for Martini-making. Not so. A truly great Martini is stirred rather than shaken to avoid diluting the drink with ice shards. This means that as long as you have a nice, tall cocktail glass for mixing and a fine strainer, you're just a few pours away from an excellent Martini. A Hawthorne strainer is preferred, but I've made an excellent martini with just a small sieve.
Four Essential Martini Tools
- Ice: Cubed ice won't dilute the drink.
- Shaker or mixing glass: For shaking with vodka; for mixing with gin.
- Bar spoons: See above.
- Strainer: To prevent ice from making its way into the glass.
No martini glass? No problem: A coupe or even small tumbler makes for easier Martini-drinking anyway. Don't forget to chill the glass before mixing to ensure an icy-cold Martini while sipping.
Strong opinions: Why the Martini Glass Is the Worst Glass in the World
So you've got great booze, good ice, and a few tools and its time to put them all together. The technique will vary slightly depending on the type of Martini you're making, but it goes something like this.
- Chill a glass by stashing it in the freezer.
- Pour the gin or vodka and vermouth into a cocktail shaker or mixing glass.
- Add the ice and stir, stir, stir.
- Strain the drink into your chilled glass.
- Garnish as desired.
Speaking of garnishes: An olive is traditional, while a lemon twist enhances the floral flavors of the gin. A cocktail onion turns the Martini into a Gibson.