You only like to drink sophisticated, grown-up cocktails. You actually appreciate fine liquors and despise trashy, sugary club drinks that glow under blacklights and feature powdered mixers and tons of fruit. The dry martini is the drink for you. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you appreciate the flavors, you’ll find yourself going back to it again and again.
The Dry Martini
Where do martinis get their name? No one agrees.
One story says that it originated in the town of Martinez during the California Gold Rush of 1848-1855. A miner walks into a bar (and this is not even the start of a joke) and asks for champagne because he’s just struck it rich.
Naturally, there was no champagne in those distant lands, so the bartender promised to make him something special and threw together vermouth, gin, maraschino liqueur, bitters, and some lemon. The miner loved it and ordered one for everyone in the bar, naming it after the town.
The Italian Bar Keep
According to another origin story, the first martini was made by Martini di Arma di Taggia in New York City in 1911 and served to John D. Rockefeller, who promptly christened the drink after its maker.
The Boring Story
The most boring origin story for the King of Cocktails is that it’s simply named for Italian vermouth makers Martini and Rossi, which even today is still the most commonly available brand of vermouth.
How to Make It
So what makes a Martini dry? All martinis have gin or vodka and vermouth, but what makes a dry one dry is how little vermouth it has in it, and the fact that the vermouth is dry, not sweet. If you use sweet vermouth, or even too much vermouth, it’s no longer dry. It’s just a martini, which is fine, but not…perfect. Here’s our recipe:
- 2.5 oz fine dry gin
- .5 oz dry vermouth
- 1 dash orange bitters
- Lemon twist for garnish
Add everything but the twist to a mixing glass and then stir until it’s very cold. The best martinis are not shaken but stirred (sorry, 007). Strain it into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish it with a lemon twist.
Variations and Argumentation
Such a simple and sophisticated cocktail is bound to have some variations, but you’ll find that people are typically very particular about their martinis. Some prefer vodka to gin, but gin lovers will tell you those people just don’t know the taste of good alcohol. Some prefer olives to lemon twist, though if you add olive juice it becomes a dirty martini.
Some people don’t want any vermouth in their martini at all, or at least a splash so small it hardly counts. Some people only dip their finger in the vermouth and then run it around the rim of their glass. Winston Churchhill famously said once that he liked to “observe the vermouth from across the room” while drinking his martini, and Noël Coward said that the perfect martini was made by “filling the glass with gin, then waving it in the general direction of Italy.”
However you like your martini, just make sure to use a high-end gin and get it very cold. Cheers!