Martini Variations

For me, the classic martini cannot be beaten.

However, I have experimented with a whole world of martini variations and have enjoyed it thoroughly so I wholeheartedly recommend it to you all.

A martini is in all honesty a very simple drink. It consists of a glass, gin or vodka, vermouth and a garnish.

The smallest alteration to this combination can make a world of difference. Indeed, some of the most classic variations have barely different ingredients at all.

A few teaspoons of olive brine makes a dirty martini. A pickled onion makes a gibson. The lightest touch converts them into a wholly different experience, some with completely separate identities, processes, stories and fans.

There is only one way to find out which you are the biggest fan of. You need to experiment and try as many as possible.

Not in one sitting, of course, there are so many types to try! It could take months. It should probably take years – but make sure you enjoy the journey, collect the stories, experiment – this is all part of the fun. If you find – or even create – a variety that you particularly like over all others, please let me know.

I love to hear what preferences other people have, be it the timeless dirty, the luscious lychee, the subtle vesper – regale me with your own experiences. And if you come up with a new martini innovation please share it with us – your clinking comrades!

For now, here are several varieties for you to try. Have fun!


#1 The Classic Martini

This is the unquestionable standard. It ranges from sweet to dry and is garnished with either lemon peel or olive.

#2 The Vodka Martini

This variation is almost exactly the same as a classic martini but it is made with vodka instead of gin.

#3 The Dirty Martini

The Dirty Martini is made almost the same way as a classic martini, but with the addition of olive brine, usually 2-6 tsps according to taste.

#4 The Filthy Martini

Highly underrated. Many people assume that a filthy martini is simply a dirty martini with extra brine. In fact, a filthy martini is like a classic, but garnished with a pickled caperberry.

#5 The Gibson Martini

This is a classic martini but garnished with a small, pickled onion. It can be visually striking and has a distinctive, slightly pungent flavour that gives it a perfect sharpness before dinner whilst also retaining the oily-smooth consistency of a classic martini.

#6 The Perfect Martini

A Perfect Martini is not “someone’s ideal type of martini” rather, it is a specific recipe involving two parts gin or vodka with one part each of sweet and dry vermouth.

#7 The Upside Down Martini

This is like a classic martini but the gin-to-vermouth ratio has been reversed, so it’s much less strong.

#8 The Bone Dry Martini

This is a simple martini variation, but with only the smallest amount of vermouth, ranging from half a teaspoon to mere molecules of vapour around the glass. The challenge, but also potentially fun part is making sure you add the correct proportions.

#9 The Montgomery Martini

Named after Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, the 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, this is a classic martini defined by its 15:1 gin-to-vermouth ratio.

#10 The Churchill Martini

This is served as the First Sea Lord liked it: without vermouth. There are also some delightful ceremonies surrounding the pourer’s interaction with the vermouth.

#11 The Vesper Martini

Created by Sir Ian Fleming in his novel Casino Royale, this martini variation includes both gin AND vodka.

#12 The Martinez

This is likely the closest thing to the first martini ever made or could at least be thought of as the “prequel” to what we drink today.

#13 The Hot Martini

Top a standard martini with some high proof alcohol and set alight for dramatic, visual flair without heating the martini itself.

#14 The Spicy Martini

This is a simple martini with a few drops of hot sauce to taste. It’s a fantastic drink to whet the appetite.

#15 The Hot ‘n’ Dirty Martini

Create a spicy martini as above, then add olive brine to taste and garnish with roasted pepper. Those who order this are rarely boring.

#16 The Paisley Martini

Underrated and in need of a revival, this is a classic martini with a teaspoon or two of whisky, named after the Scottish town which was once the centre of the whisky industry. It’s especially lovely in winter.

#27 The Appletini

This is a retro classic that keeps coming back, probably because of its deliciousness. It balances the sweet, sharpness of apple, with the strength of vodka, but there are several variations.

#28 The Gimlet

This is a very handy cocktail to have in your repertoire. It’s ridiculously easy to prepare, sweet and sour, refreshing and half the strength of a classic martini.

#17 The Smokey Martini

This is a beautiful and evocative martini with just a hint of whisky (preferably a peaty malt) rubbed around the inside of the glass.

#18 The Gypsy Martini

This is a slightly sweetened variation with a very pretty garnish.

Make a classic martini or a vodka martini, and garnish it with a single maraschino cherry.

I would also recommend adding a teaspoon or two of the maraschino syrup to really enhance the flavour and add to the sweetness.

#19 The Limoncello Martini

This is a very simple variation on a classic martini. Add a teaspoon or two of limoncello to a classic martini and garnish with lemon peel, rather than olive.

#20 A Martini on the Rocks

This is a classic martini served to your usual preference, but in a glass with ice. It’s a useful backup but not usually as sacred as the originals.


#21 The Espresso Martini

This drink has taken the world by storm since its invention in the 1980s during London Fashion Week. It combines vodka, kahlua and espresso and provides a luxurious pick-me-up with exquisite texture.

#22 The Lychee Martini

This is another sweet martini, invented in New York City but with decidedly Asian roots.

#23 The Porn Star Martini

A bombastic, provocative and titillating martini variation, I was tempted not to include it on the website, but relented due to its sheer success. It contains passion fruit, vanilla, vodka and lime juice and comes with a shot of sparkling wine as a chaser.

#24 The Breakfast Martini

This beautiful cocktail mixes gin or vodka with orange liqueur, lemon juice and the magic ingredient: marmalade

This is a very special drink that I would recommend at any time of the day, not just at breakfast.

Indeed it makes a delicious post-dinner cocktail with a lovely fresh, sweet-and-sour taste and pick-me-up sugar hit if you’d rather avoid the caffeine high of an espresso martini.

This is such a delicious drink, don’t be put off by the time of day it suggests.

#25 The Lemon Drop Martini

This cocktail marks another chapter in the martini history of San Francisco.

Strong, sweet and sharp it’s a simple mix of vodka or gin with lemon juice and sugar.

It’s a delightful hit and easy to prepare.

#26 The Candyfloss / Cotton Candy Martini

If ever there was a martini for those with a sweet tooth, this is it.

This cocktail also brings the visual flair of the candyfloss/cotton candy sitting on top of the glass like a pastel cumulonimbus.

Wait until you drop it into the drink itself and watch it dramatically dissolve at high speed; it’s a theatre of glucose.

#29 The French Martini

This is another New York creation, originating in the 1980s. It takes its name from its French ingredient Chambord – a sweet, raspberry liqueur.

It also includes vodka and pineapple juice.

It’s technically a sweet, fruit cocktail rather than a strict martini, but I include it in this list because decades later, the martini name has stuck.

#30 The Cucumber Martini

This is a very refreshing, delicate martini that involves muddling cucumber into your gin or vodka in advance of pouring.

If you are able to let the cucumber infuse the gin or vodka for a few hours in the fridge before straining and placing the alcohol into the freezer to get really cold you can enjoy a really beautiful martini, garnished with an additional slice of fresh cucumber.

Further Variations

Here is a selection of further posts on previously made martini variations. Scroll down further for selections of martini variations arranged by category.


These are a type of infusion martini made using gin or vodka blended at home with certain types of tea. Some of them work, some of them are less effective, but it’s an interesting journey of discovery regardless.

Sweet Martini Variations

This a selection of martini variations with sweeter characteristics.

Savoury Martini Variations

This is a selection of martini variations with more savoury flavours.

A wealth of other alternatives

As you can see, some of these variations involve an experimentational approach, but the possibilities are endless. Here are even more types you can try out at home: