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The Martini may be the first cocktail which comes to mind when you think of a "Classic Cocktail". While it isn't the "original" cocktail, it is the best known.

Basic Recipe


  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters

Stir well with ice to chill. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist, or green olives if the guest prefers.

It is said that if you ever find yourself lost, mix up a Martini. Upon doing so, you will be instantly surrounded by several people telling you that you are making it wrong.

There is no agreed upon standard recipe for a Martini. Originally it would often be made with equal parts of gin and vermouth. In more recent times it would be made with just the barest dash of vermouth, if any at all, and no orange bitters. Today, we are seeing a return to the use of vermouth as well as orange bitters.

In the recipe displayed above, certain aspects of it are ones we "hope" represent a canonical interpretation.

  1. Gin - If a customer simply asks for a "Martini" it should be made with gin. If they were wanting it made with Vodka instead, they should ask for a "Vodka Martini". Yes, we know that some (if not many) customers will feel that Vodka should be the assumed spirit.
  2. Vermouth - A Martini should always include vermouth, and hopefully more than just a dash.
  3. Orange Bitters - If at all possible, a properly made Martini should utilize orange bitters. The reason that this became "uncommon" is because for the longest time orange bitters was not readily available. Now that it is easy to acquire, there is no reason that it should not be utilized.
  4. Stirred - A Martini should always be stirred, unless the customer specifies otherwise.
  5. Lemon Twist - This is the preferred garnish for a Martini, however it has become almost iconic for the Martini to be garnished with olives instead. This is usually because the customer likes to have them as an extra little appetizer that accompanies the drink, much the same way that the Bloody Mary is garnished with a variety of edible accompaniments. Our recommendation is to serve several olives on the side.

Martini Origins

Historical Recipes

From: Harry Johnson, The New And Improved Illustrated Bartenders' Manual (New York: Harry Johnson, 1888), p. 38.

(Use a large bar glass)
Fill the glass up with ice;
2 or 3 dashes of Gum Syrup;
2 or 3 dashes of Bitters; (Boker's genuine only.);
1 dash of Curaçao;
1/2 wine glassful of Old Tom Gin;
1/2     "        "        " Vermouth;
Stir up well with a spoon, strain it into a fancy
cocktail glass, squeeze a piece of lemon peel on top,
and serve.

From: George J. Kappeler, Modern American Drinks (New York: Merriam Company, 1895), p. 38.

Martini Cocktail.
    Half a mixing-glass full fine ice, three dashes
orange bitters, one-half jigger Tom gin, one-half
jigger Italian vermouth, a piece lemon-peel. Mix,
strain into cocktail-glass. Add a maraschino
cherry, if desired by customer.

Jacques Straub, Drinks (Chicago: The Hotel Monthly Press, 1914), p. 31.

Martini Cocktail
1/3 jigger Italian vermouth.
2/3 jigger gin.
1 dash orange bitters. Stir well and serve.

From: The Cocktail Book: A Sideboard Manual for Gentlemen (The St. Botolph Society) 1925, p. 21:

Martini Cocktail.
Use Mixing Glass
THREE dashes orange bitters; two-
thirds Tom gin; one-third Italian ver-
mouth; small piece lemon peel. Fill with
ice, mix, and strain into a cocktail glass.

Dry Martini

Originally, the recipe for the Martini called for sweet vermouth, just like the Manhattan. This is partially due to sweet vermouth being the type that was initially most readily available. Over time, dry vermouth became available, and when a customer wanted either a Martini or a Manhattan made with it instead of the typical sweet vermouth, they would ask for a "dry Martini" or "dry Manhattan".

It wouldn't be until after American Prohibition that customers began to use "dry" as an indicator of how much vermouth to use, instead of which type. During this time, vermouth was almost seen as an evil ingredient, and one which should be attempted to minimize as much as possible. This took such extremes as to using eye-droppers or misters to administer the barest hint of vermouth, and the term "extra dry Martini" would be utilized to indicate that no vermouth at all should be used.

From: Frank Newman, “American Bar – Recettes des Boissons Anglaise & Américaines”, published in 1904. (Perhaps important to note that the Dry Martini Cocktail did not exist in his 1900 version, but the "Martini Cocktail" did)

Dry Martini Cocktail
Verre No. 5
  Prendre le verre à mélange no. 1, mettre quelques mor-
ceaux de glace:
            3 traits d’angostura ou orange bitter.
  Finir avec gin et vermouth sec, quantités égales, remuer,
passer dans le verre no. 5, server avec un zeste de citron,
une cerise ou une olive, au gout du consommateur.

Which translates into English as:

Dry Martini Cocktail
Glass No. 5
  Using mixing glass No 1, and a few pieces of ice:
            3 dashes of angostura or orange bitter.
  Finish with gin and dry vermouth, equal quantities, stir
well, pour into glass No 5, serve with a piece of lemon peel,
a cherry or an olive, based on the taste of the consumer.

From: Jacques Straub, Drinks (Chicago: The Hotel Monthly Press, 1914), p. 25:

Dry Martini Cocktail
1/2 jigger French vermouth.
1/2 jigger dry gin. Stir.

From: The Cocktail Book: A Sideboard Manual for Gentlemen (The St. Botolph Society) 1925, p. 21:

Martini Cocktail -- Dry.
Use Mixing Glass
TWO dashes orange bitters; two-thirds
dry gin; one-third French vermouth;
small piece lemon peel. Fill with ice, mix,
and strain into a cocktail glass.