Ah, the martini. Quite possibly the most famous cocktail of them all (although it has serious competition from the negroni and old fashioned) and one that many enthusiasts will demand be made ‘just right’ before they even consider taking a sip. We’ve already covered the vodka martini, but if history is to be believed, it was, in fact, the gin martini that came first.
The gin martini has been known to be the favourite cocktail of many famous faces throughout the years, most notably Ernest Hemingway, who, according to Martini Cocktail, demanded his martinis be icy-cold for him to drink. He also rejigged the measurements (to a ratio of 15:1 gin to vermouth) to make his own version called “The Montgomery”.
With it being a martini, it’s traditionally stirred (none of that James Bond shaking nonsense) and is an alcohol-only drink, so is ripe for ruin if you don’t make it properly. So, allow us to guide you through the stirred-down and diluted world of the gin martini.
Origin Of The Gin Martini
Proximo’s gung-ho bartender Hayley Dixon tells us that, “like many classics, the gin martini has an unknown origin.”
“Many believe it was an evolution of the Martinez cocktail, which in turn originated from the Manhatten. However, some others believe it was created from the Marguerite which has the addition of Dry Curacao.”
Hayley adds, “Whatever the origin, one thing is for sure, the Martini has become progressively drier over the years. The cocktail initially included simple syrup and was almost 50/50 gin to vermouth in a lot of cases.”
With regards to this, it’s been noted that Dry Martinis started out using a 2:1 ratio gin to vermouth in the 1920s, but with each passing decade, the ratio changed to 3:1, then 4:1. Eventually, it wasn’t uncommon for the Martini to be served at a ratio of 100:1.
“Today, a ‘Wet Martini’ could be considered around two parts gin to one part vermouth in many bars and a ‘Dry Martini’ can in some cases contain almost no vermouth whatsoever.”
Indeed, it has been documented that English playwright Noël Coward once said, “A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin, then waving it in the general direction of Italy”, since Italy was the dominant producer of vermouth.
Gin Martini Ingredients
As with other conventional martini cocktails – and not modern interpretations such as the espresso martini and porn star martini – a gin martini should contain just gin and vermouth. However, Hayley’s traditional recipe also calls for a dash of orange bitters.
- Gin (Boodles, Hendrick’s, The Botanist)
- Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat, Martini Bianco)
- Orange bitters (optional)
- Lemon twist for garnish
- Olive garnish if serving dirty
- Martini glass or Nick & Nora glass
- Cocktail mixing glass
- Stirring spoon
Classic Gin Martini Recipe Measurements
The debate as to what the correct measurements of gin and vermouth are for a gin martini is a fierce one. However, a good starting point is a 3:1 ratio.
- 60ml/2oz Gin
- 20ml/0.7oz Dry Vermouth
- 1 Dash Orange Bitters (optional)
You can obviously adjust the measurements of the spirits to your liking, some people may prefer to keep the 60ml of gin, but bring the amount of dry vermouth down to 10ml. It’s all about trial and error, and that’s the most exciting part of cocktail making.
How To Make The Gin Martini
Forget what you hear every time you watch a James Bond movie. Even though the British secret agent drinks vodka martinis, the very fact he asks for his to be shaken and not stirred is one of the most sacrilegious sentences ever uttered in the history of the human race.
To make your gin martini – in this case, a dry one – the right way, following these simple steps.
- Pour all ingredients into cocktail mixing glass or container.
- Add a good scoop of ice, you want your gin martini to be served cold.
- Stir ingredients together until ice-cold. You also want to make sure you stir enough times to dilute the mixture, but not so much that it ends up tasting like water.
- Strain into Martini or Nick & Nora glass
- Garnish with a lemon twist
If you want to make a wet martini, simply add more dry vermouth to the mixture. Most common recipes call for a 50/50 ratio.
A dirty martini adds olive brine or olive juice into the mix, and olive to garnish. Again, you’ll want to experiment with measurements until you find the best tasting gin martini for you.
Alternatively, you can follow Hayley’s twist below.
Expert Twist On The Gin Martini
Hayley tells us, “I am such a sucker for a dirty martini. Interestingly, a drunken night out and a mystery Dirty Martini is actually the only reason I even like olives, couldn’t stand them beforehand and I have got to say, for a Tequila Specialist, I sure drink a lot of Martinis.”
“They are a cocktail that is so often done wrong and not just at home, in bars also.”
“For this twist, we are going to keep it relatively traditional (maybe a tiny twist) but we are going to learn how to make them properly. No skipping corners for this one, your taste buds will thank you. If you do not like a dirty martini, trade the Vermouth and brine for 30ml Lillet Blanc and a grapefruit twist, follow the rest of the instructions and you will be equally as satisfied.”
- 60ml Boodles London Dry Gin
- 10ml Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
- 15-20ml Olive brine
- Garnish olive and chili oil
- Make ice. Your regular, small ice cube trays will not cut it for this one, the ice needs to be much larger. Get a Tupperware container, even a takeaway one is great. Give it a good clean and fill it up around 3 – 4cm with filtered water. Once completely frozen pull it out and remove the ice from the container, allow it to sit for around 10 – 15 minutes until it starts to defrost a tiny bit. Using a serrated knife and something to ‘tap’ the top side of the knife begin cutting your ice into about 4cm cubes. The trick is to score the ice about 0.5cm in, until it feels smooth, hold the knife firm and tap the top side of it. The ice should crack right through.
A quick Google search will bring up plenty of videos for how to make the best ice at home and even how to make beautiful crystal-clear ice.
- Get everything in the freezer, EVERYTHING (almost). Your glass to serve in, gin and mixing glass. Do not take them out until you need them and make sure they are as frozen as possible before using
- Put everything else in the fridge, the vermouth, olives and brine. I can not reiterate enough how important the temperature of a martini is to its overall flavour
- Get your bar spoon, jigger and your garnishes prepared. If you cannot find chilli oil at your grocery store you can simply make it at home by infusing fresh chilli into olive oil. You will also need a straw or ‘dropper’ to float your oil drops on top of your cocktail. Choose your favourite olives, but make sure they are in brine
- Add all your ingredients to your mixing glass, be sure to leave the glass you will be serving it in in the freezer until the cocktail is ready
- Fill your mixing glass to the absolute top with ice, feel free to crack a few smaller pieces in. As you’re stirring and the ice is diluting, keep topping it up
- Stir for a LONG time. Make sure you taste as you go. If everything is as cold as it should be this can take up to about 5 minutes, sometimes longer. Stirring is to add dilution to the cocktail but also to make sure it gets as cold as possible. Ice should start to form on the outside of the mixing glass. That is when you know you are doing it correctly!
Tip: if your cocktail reaches a good amount of dilution before it reaches the correct temperature, put the whole thing in the freezer until it is nice and cold
- Strain cocktail into your frozen glassware
- Garnish with olive by dropping it in and allowing it to sink to the bottom
- Carefully float 2 small drops of the oil on top
- Drink quick enough that it does not get too warm, but slow enough you get to enjoy every drop!
How To Drink A Gin Martini
Before you even think about making a gin martini at home, you need to ask yourself, “am I sophisticated enough?”. If the answer is no, or if you even have to hesitate before forming an opinion, stay well clear and stick to a beer, wine or vodka lime and soda.
The gin martini is a grandiose cocktail and one that should be savoured and not chugged. Although, as Hayley notes, you want to finish it before it gets too warm. It can be a drink to enjoy in summer, but if you find yourself sitting outside in the sun, you’ll want to speed up the sdrinking process. Otherwise, head to an underground or air-conditioned bar and sip the night away.
Gin Martini FAQ
What is a dry martini?
The official recipe for a dry martini calls for six parts gin to one part dry vermouth. Ultimately, the less dry vermouth in the martini, the drier it will be.
What is the best gin for a gin martini?
The ultimate best gin for a gin martini is up for debate, however, Boodles Gin, Plymouth Dry Gin and Gordon's London Dry Gin are great ones to start with.
What does a martini taste like?
You have to like your alcohol if you want to have a martini. It is an alcohol-only drink and will taste like drinking pure gin or vodka, with a hint of dry vermouth and olive, if you choose to drink it dirty.