One of the oldest cocktails, meant to celebrate the many nuances in gin’s flavor. A simple yet refined drink that stood the test of time, and is a bar staple even now.
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What is a Martini ?
Martini is a gin and blanc vermouth (dry vs blanc is an entire debate) cocktail that is about as old as the idea of cocktails themselves. The very first Martini is lost to time, and there are several variations on this classic. Some may favor more gin, some may favor more vermouth, but all are meant to showcase the gin itself.
The dry vs blanc vermouth debate goes back decades. Blanc vermouth is sweeter than dry vermouth, but not nearly as sweet as sweet vermouth. Some prefer it since it smooths out the gin and adds a much needed sweet note. Some dislike it because it smooths out the gin, and only dry vermouth works for them. Whichever side you’re on, there are plenty of recipe variations to please you.
There is a third, less known ingredient in the classic Martini, and it’s entirely optional – orange bitters. I didn’t add them to my Martini since I can barely stand the gin, let alone adding something bitter and dry on top. But many have pointed out that the combination works very well, so you could try it once and see how it goes.
Classic Martini Cocktail Recipe
- 2 oz gin
- 1 oz blanc or dry vermouth
- orange or lemon peel express and garnish
- In a mixing glass or shaker add ice, gin, vermouth.
- Stir to cool and combine.
- Strain into Martini glass.
- Express lemon or orange peel on top.
- This is a very old cocktail recipe , and it was meant to celebrate the botanical in gin. Make sure you use your favorite here.
- Shaking vs stirring is more of a personal preference. Shaking will always give more dilution than stirring, stirring will bring the gin forward.
When is this drink best ?
Martini is a classic, and a simple drink as well. I think it has an elegant vibe to it, both in composition and in looks so I think of it more of a dinner drink, or the one drink you stick to throughout an entire event. Since it’s a sipper, I think it works best in a setting where you’re sitting down for a chat, as opposed to dancing.
My thoughts on Martini
This was a challenging drink for me, since I don’t get along with gin as well as I used to. If you are a gin lover this cocktail is a great way to celebrate the botanical notes in gin, and how they pair with the vermouth. I used blanc vermouth since I wanted to balance the gin a little, and needed a hint of sweetness as well.
I can see how this cocktail can become a fast favorite for those who enjoy gin, the same way a Manhattan can be a favorite for those who enjoy whiskey.
If you like Martini, you might also like…
Manhattan – similar to Martini, but whiskey or bourbon-based
Dirty Martini – a Martini with less vermouth, and a little bit of olive brine
Negroni – gin, sweet vermouth, orange aperitif resulting in a very strong drink
Gin and Tonic – a classic highball (or lowball), and a good way to try gin out
French 75 – a gin Mimosa of sorts
Notes, substitutes, and tips
Lemon peel is optional but works great here. Express it onto the drink before serving and you’ll find it pairs very well with the gin. Other citrus might work well too, such as orange or citrus.
If you decide to use cry vermouth, the resulting drink will be very dry since gin in a Martini is generally dry (either dry or London dry).
This is not a beginner’s drink, and unless you have a well-developed palate and/or taste for gin, this is hard to love.