The Bone Dry Martini

“I’d like a dry martini, Mr. Quoc, a very dry martini. A very dry, arid, barren, desiccated, veritable dustbowl of a martini. I want a martini that could be declared a disaster area. Mix me just such a martini.”

Hawkeye Pierce, M*A*S*H

The Bone Dry Martini is a very simple version of the classic. It is simply a martini to which the boundaries of the vermouth ratio have been pushed to the limit. There is barely any vermouth in the drink at all.

This version of a martini has very little in the way of recorded history; it barely needs any.

What it is not

A martini containing a 15:1 gin to vermouth ratio is known as a Montgomery Martini. This equates to around 1 teaspoon per 100ml/3.5fl oz of gin. A martini with less vermouth could be described as ‘extra dry’ but anything less than half a teaspoon to this ratio could easily be classified as a ‘bone dry’ martini. Bear in mind that a martini with no vermouth at all is called a Churchill Martini.

How to Make a Bone Dry Martini

Essentially, the method for making this martini is the same as making a classic martini. You simply have to put a little more thought into measuring out the vermouth to make sure you get it right. There are one or two different ways to impart anything from a drop to half a teaspoon into your martini, and this is perhaps where the fun really begins with this variation.

Getting the Volume Right

You could use a dropper, or a spray diffuser to add the vermouth to the glass.

You could swill vermouth around the glass and dump it out, but I hate the waste, although perhaps you could swill it into another martini glass rather than down the sink and reuse the excess vermouth for the next martini.

You could also use a gloved or religiously scrubbed finger to rub some vermouth around the inside of the glass.

If you are garnishing the drink with lemon peel you could also dip the peel into a glass containing vermouth and stir that into the gin once it has been poured.

Take your pick or come up with your own method and share with us here.

Set the Stage

Perhaps my favourite story is for the server to gargle some vermouth, then either spit it out (more waste) or preferably drink it, then slowly, but dramatically whisper the word ‘vermouth’ into the glass, presumably imparting some sort of molecular coating. This is entertaining theatre for any martini guests you might have, and would be a pleasant perk of the job for a bartender, although the vapour alone would render this a particularly dry version of the bone dry martini – you have been warned!

Take your pick whichever method you would prefer, or come up with your own and share with us here.

Which Garnish?

As a form of classic martini, you could serve this with either olives or lemon peel, although there would be nothing wrong with requesting a bone dry version of some of the other classic martini variations, such as a bone dry Gibson for example. However, if you are sticking to a classic, go with your preference, although I personally prefer the clean, almost surgical citrus that would come from the lemon peel. It imparts a medicinal quality to the drink and I think it accentuates the dryness.

Defining the Classic

Sticking with a medical theme, the US sitcom M*A*S*H revolves around a set of US army doctors serving in the Korean War. The leading character and chief surgeon Hawkeye Pierce orders an exceedingly dry martini, with his iconic description still echoing down the decades. Perhaps had he known that a Churchill Martini was an option he would’ve ordered that instead, but nonetheless, his lines illustrating the characteristics of the bone dry martini are extensively wonderful.