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Classic Martini

In the interest of tradition and in deference to a proper cocktail, allow us to explain something. Listen carefully, we’re only going to state this once. A classic martini consists, quite simply, of gin and vermouth. A five to one ratio. Stirred, not shaken. Maybe an olive or two; if you’re me, a twist instead. Nothing else.

This is the martini known and imbibed by icons including Ernest Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich, and Humphrey Bogart. The martini that inspired the three-martini lunch. The martini that was rendered almost extinct by the trend toward froufrou cocktails. The martini that’s convinced some of us we were born several decades too late.–Renee Schettler Rossi

LC I'll Have a Dry Martini, Pleaseā€¦ Note

For those unfamiliar with liquor lexicon, the relative dryness of a martini refers to the amount of vermouth. The drier the martini, the less vermouth. This can be achieved in any of many ways, whether you use a scant splash, give the glass but a quick rinse of vermouth prior to sloshing in the gin, or only so much as wave the bottle over the glass. (Conversely, ordering the rarity known as a “wet martini” tells the barkeep you want a hefty splash of you-know-what.) More on making a martini of proper proportions can be found in the writings of M.F.K. Fisher.

And should you be looking to put the rest of that bottle of vermouth to good use, grab your roasting pan, a hen, and this recipe from James Beard for Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic. You’re welcome.

Special Equipment: Martini glass, chilled

Classic Martini Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Serves 1

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 2 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • Green olive(s) or a twist of lemon peel

Directions

  • 1. Toss a handful of ice into a mixing glass. (A pint glass works quite well, as does the bottom portion of a cocktail shaker.)
  • 2. Pour in the gin and vermouth. Stir for 30 seconds.
  • 3. Strain the martini into a martini glass. Drop in an olive or perch the twist on the edge of the glass.

Martini Variations

  • Dry: Go easy on the vermouth. (Traditionally, it was the converse, relying on a generous pour of vermouth.)
    Dirty: Add a splash of olive brine.
    Vodka: Duh. Swap gin for vodka.
    Perfect or 50-50: Rely on equal amounts sweet and dry vermouth.
    Gibson: Lose the olive and the twist. Toss in a cocktail onion instead.
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