How to Make a Classic Martini

Martinis have a rich history and culture. There are numerous variations and a multitude of amazing venues you can drink them, but some of the best martinis are ones you can make easily at home.

You will need some basic ingredients, and one or two items of equipment, but nothing too complicated.

You do not need a shaker. You don’t need ice either, but you will need a freezer and at least six hours.

Ingredients

Let’s keep things simple and assume you’re going to make more than one martini, or will at least use any leftover gin or vermouth later. You will need:

  • A bottle of gin or vodka depending on your preference.
  • A bottle of vermouth. Start with sweet vermouth such as martini bianco if you’re new to martinis, then work your way towards drier vermouths as you become more accustomed to the drink.
  • Either a fresh unwaxed lemon, or olives preserved in brine.

Equipment

  • A freezer
  • Martini glasses. If you want to do this properly, the glasses should be conical shaped with a size/volume of around 100-130ml / 3.4 – 4.4 US fluid ounces. Glasses that are bigger than this are for other cocktails, not martinis. Coupe glasses are an acceptable substitute but the narrower brim changes the drinking experience. I source mine from Arcoroc.
  • A peeler and a sharp knife if you are going to use lemon
  • Toothpicks / cocktail sticks if you are going to use olive

Instructions

  1. At least six hours before you intend to drink, put your bottle of gin/vodka plus the relevant number of glasses into the freezer. FYI I keep my gin in the freezer permanently.
  2. Put your vermouth into the refrigerator at the same time to make sure it cools down as well. Once a vermouth bottle has been opened it will need to stay in the refrigerator permanently or it will spoil more quickly.
  3. When it’s time to serve, take the glasses and gin/vodka out of the freezer. They should be nice and frosty.
  4. If you are serving your martini with lemon, peel some fresh zest and gently twist and squeeze it inside the glass. This should spray a fine mist of lemon oil onto the glass that will make the drink taste beautiful.
  5. Use a sharp knife to shape the lemon peel and make it neat (depending on the strip of lemon, a rhombus is usually the most efficient shape).
  6. Pour in vermouth to the glass. The amount you pour will depend on taste and is usually around 2-15ml or 0.5-3 teaspoons.
  7. Top up the glass with the gin or vodka. This should be around 80-120ml or 3-4 US fluid ounces, depending on the glass you are using and your personal preferences.
  8. Use the lemon peel to stir the drink, or if you are using olives, skewer one or more olives onto a toothpick or cocktail stick and use this to stir the drink.
  9. Drop the lemon peel or olives into the glass as a garnish.
  10. Serve, preferably with some nibbles.

If you want to have more of an in-depth overview of Martinis, looking at things like their historical origins and cultural significance, try this page.

Once you have familiarised yourself with making classic martinis, try experimenting. Change the ratio of vermouth to gin/vodka to see what you like. Be prepared for your preferences to change over time. Try different types or gin and vodka, and be sure to look at all the numerous varieties of martini you can try, as well as the myriad of food and nibbles you can serve as an accompaniment.

But most of all – enjoy your martini journey!

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