Not long after I started to get into martinis, I thought I had it all figured. I decided vodka martinis shouldn’t exist, gin martinis should never be shaken and that olives were the only acceptable garnish. Oh and dry, please, very dry. A hint of vermouth at most.
I knew nothing.
The only thing I remain adamant about on that old list is that vodka should never enter the scene. Everything else is on the table. After much trial, some unfortunate, unpalatable error and some unexpected surprises, I am open to it all. Even things I would never have tried or requested myself. One time I was served a martini that was shaken to death. The ice had shattered into tiny chips that completely covered the surface of the very full, very cold champagne coup it was served in. It was fantastic to both behold and to drink. I only recently learned that orange bitters are used in the classic version, and having tried it, I’m much more open to an orange twist — in place of or alongside fresh, hard green olives — to impart the same subtle aroma. And, my mind was blown when I first read that vermouth played a much larger role (like sometimes equal parts gin and vermouth!) in original versions, perhaps from a time before gin was as good as it is now, they say. Which brings us to the gin. London dry? Something more botanical? That’s a matter of taste and a great excuse for repeated trials. Your favourite martini might look nothing like a classic martini and why should that matter?
The proportions of gin:vermouth are entirely up to you. For the driest martini, some people merely spritz the serving glass with vermouth or swirl some around and discard it before pouring chilled gin into it. This is just my current go-to ratio, 3:1.
Ice for stirring
Martini glass or champagne coupe
Olives, or a flamed orange twist, both optional
Add 3 parts gin, 1 part vermouth and 1-2 dashes of bitters if using to an ice-filled shaker or glass and stir for 20 seconds. Pour into a serving glass and garnish with olives or orange twist.