How To Make a Martini

Glasses of martini photo

Martinis are the cornerstone of a well-stocked bar. Knowing how to make a proper one is essential for good entertaining. Many people will prefer their martini shaken in a special shaker, while others will prefer it stirred in a mixing glass. In a classic James Bond way, you need to always ask whether they want their martini "shaken, or stirred?"

William T. Boothby's 1907 book, The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them, states as its recipe for a dry martini, "into a mixing glass place some cracked ice, two dashes of orange bitters, half a jigger of (dry) French vermouth, and half a jigger of dry English gin. Stir well until thoroughly chilled, strain into a stem cocktail-glass, squeeze a piece of lemon peel over the top and serve with an olive." Clearly there is always room for personalization in any mixed drink.


In a classic martini you need only three things: gin, dry vermouth, and a Spanish olive. Other alcohols, garnishes, and methods can be used for different variations on the classic (such as the equally popular vodka martini, which substitutes vodka for gin), but those three ingredients are the only things needed for a true Martini. Try to use what are categorized as "top shelf liquors," so that your guests are getting the best quality drink with the best flavor available. You don't want to be known as the host with the cheap drinks!

For your classic martini, you need 2.5 ounces gin, 0.5 ounce dry vermouth, and a Spanish olive.

  1. Pour gin and vermouth into a mixing glass with ice and stir, or pour into a shaker with ice and shake, depending on personal taste.
  2.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the Spanish olive, letting it float in the glass.

Different Methods

As stated above, there are many popular variations on the classic martini.  The number of martini recipes grows all the time.  Here are some of the favorite variations.

  1. Gibson: A martini with an onion instead of the classic olive garnish. It too floats in the glass and doesn't sit on the side.
  2. Dry: A traditional martini, but using very little or no vermouth in the mixture.
  3. Perfect: 2.5 ounces gin, 0.25 ounces sweet vermouth, 0.25 ounces dry vermouth. Same steps in mixing.
  4. 50-50: 1.5 ounces gin, 1.5 ounces dry vermouth. Same steps in mixing.
  5. Dirty: Adding a splash of the olive brine to the mixture, said to take out the harshness.
  6. Sake Martini: Using sake instead of vermouth.
  7. Naked: Using no ice, but having the glasses and shakers be chilled.
  8. Spiceland: A dry martini mix but with a garlic-stuffed olive garnish.
  9. Dickens: Traditional martini without a garnish.
  10. Vodka Martini: Using vodka instead of gin.
  11. Apple Martini: A vodka martini with apple schnapps and a Granny Smith apple garnish.


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