Don’t worry, this is a common problem, and there are several options that you might find appealing.
First of all, make sure you’re using good quality ingredients. A poor quality gin or vodka will taste bad whatever you do to it in a martini. There is no soft drink to tone it down or mask the quality.
Is the drink cold enough? It might need to be chilled in the freezer for longer.
Temperature is absolutely vital when making a martini. Ideally the gin should be stored in the freezer for at least 6-8 hours prior to use. I keep it there all the time. I keep the glasses in there too.
Have you squeezed lemon peel into the glass? This isn’t just a gimmick. The fresh flavour helps cut through the alcohol and lightens the whole experience of the drink.
Try a dirty martini. This is a simple classic martini with olive brine added to taste. The non-alcoholic brine can help take the edge off the alcohol and can be a very quick, easy and culturally appropriate way to lessen the strength of a martini whilst still very much looking and sounding the part.
The Vermouth Ratio
You can always increase the vermouth ratio in your martini. There is nothing wrong with ordering your martini ‘sweet’ or ‘wet’. There is absolutely nothing wrong with ordering an Upside Down Martini, where the gin and vermouth ratios are reversed. Indeed this is a lovely way to make it a longer drink, and you can break the two martini rule if consuming this variety.
I also recommend that people who are new to drinking martinis start with a sweet vermouth rather than a dry one. This can help take the edge off the drink and make it far more palatable, without detracting from the overall sensory experience and pleasure of a martini. Ignore anyone who looks down on you for not ordering a dry vermouth. Remember that for decades martinis were originally always made with sweet vermouth.
Furthermore, I have initiated dozens of people into martini drinking and using a sweet vermouth to start is a far more effective way of bringing them onboard this beautiful journey.
Additionally, for more regular martini drinkers, if you use sweet vermouth instead of dry vermouth you can actually use less of it, and therefore have more gin, providing you with a stronger drink that allows you to taste the gin with more purity.
So if you think martinis taste too strong for you, make sure the gin is cold enough and good quality, don’t skip the lemon peel, consider drinking it “dirty”, try bumping up the vermouth ratio and try mixing it with sweet vermouth instead of dry.