In the interest of tradition, and in deference to the virtues of a classic martini, allow us to explain something.

Listen carefully as I’m going to type this only once: A classic martini consists, quite simply, of gin and vermouth. A five to one ratio. Stirred, not shaken. Maybe an olive or two or, if you’re like me, a twist.

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.–David Leite

What Makes It A Dry Martini?

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.

Two classic martinis, each garnished with two green olives.

Classic Martini

5 from 1 vote
This classic martini is made with only gin and vermouth and garnished with olive or lemon twist. Simple, elegant, and truly classic.
David Leite
Servings1 servings
Calories169 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes


  • Martini glass, chilled


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


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


Martini Variation

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.


Serving: 1 martiniCalories: 169 kcalCarbohydrates: 1 gSodium: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Photo © 2012 BigStock. All rights reserved.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. I’ve only recently learned to tolerate gin and can’t drink vodka. Through a friend, I discovered that Hendrick’s isn’t half bad so I will try it in a Martini. Mine, however, is served on the rocks in a double old fashioned with about a dozen olives, which unless you dry the olives is pretty much a dirty martini. Obviously, the Martini is only a vehicle for the olives. 😉

    1. Hah. Love it, ruthie! And yes, Hendrick’s is quite lovely and spirited in a botanical sorta way!

  2. in the early 1940’s when testing the first atomic bombs they taped a bottle of vermouth to the bomb, when it went off the vermouth was distributed in the atmosphere. When a dry martini is made in Alamogordo, they just wave the glass in the air.

  3. I have recently become obsessed with martinis. So obsessed that I had to buy a graduated cylinder to measure out my gin and vermouth to the ml. A couple things I’ve learned… 1. cold glass. frozen. 2. no wussy shaking. really go to town on it. shake hard, and long, until the whole shaker is covered in frost. 3. a gin martini can be a little dirty, vodka doesn’t work as well with the extra olive juice. For me, perfect martini is a 6:1 bombay sapphire with castelvetrano olives

    1. And what an obsession to have, Maile I do have to differ on the dirty martini as I love mine with vodka and loaded with briny juice and extra olives. Must try those castelvetrano olives.

      1. I love vermouth so I typically go for a wet martini. I think grey goose has an exceptional video tutorial for making them at home. You should check it out.

    2. I love a great martins and am constantly trying new and “new old” variants. I’ve discovered Nolly Pratt vermouth swirled in the glass with a heavily shaken Brokers gin and three blue cheese stuffed olives is my go to…..

      1. Gc, have you been drinking too much?! The direction (step 2) says “stirred.” And the headnote says, “Stirred, not shaken.”