With all of the sleuthing done by cocktail historians in recent years, no one seems to have turned up a solid story for the birth of the Martini. Certain facts, however, can be established: it postdated the Manhattan and likely evolved from a mix of sweet vermouth and sweet gin as drier versions of those alcohols became popular at the turn of the 20th century. The first printed versions of the Martini show a recipe similar to the one below. Over time, the bitters fell out of fashion, as did vermouth, and the ratio between the two liquors tilted strongly to gin. The cocktail revival has righted some of these wrong turns, but there now exists a world of permutations having to do with the ratio of vermouth to gin, garnishing with an olive or a twist, and even, yes, shaken or stirred (answer: your choice, your choice, stirred). Still, some points of agreement: a Martini must be made with gin, not vodka, and it must be mixed with vermouth, otherwise one is simply drinking chilled straight liquor. And finally, this caveat: while Martinis may be served in cocktail glasses, not everything served in a cocktail glass may be called a Martini.
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce dry vermouth (preferably Dolin)
- 2 dashes orange bitters
Garnish: lemon peel
- Add all ingredients to a mixing glass.
- Add ice and stir until chilled.
- Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass.
- Garnish with an lemon peel.
This classic is a contentious and sensitive topic with serious Martini drinkers. The way one drinks a Martini is simply a matter of personal preference. This is Punch’s suggested standard, but should you prefer a drier Martini, try a 4:1 ratio of gin to vermouth. If a wet Martini is desired, we like Audrey Saunders' Fitty-Fitty, which combines equal parts gin and dry vermouth. A Dirty Martini simply requires a splash of olive juice and a substitution of a good, dry olive (or two) for garnish.