How about a martini? Sometimes a martini sounds just right. I’m often disappointed by restaurant martinis (unless I’m at The Campground in Kansas City—Chris makes the best martini of all time).
So, I’ve been studying the martini and perfecting my at-home martini game. Today, I’m sharing what I’ve learned!
While martinis may seem intimidating, they are actually the perfect cocktail to make at home. The ingredient list is short and basic. The method is easy—stirred, not shaken, to bring out gin’s best flavors.
Now then, the “perfect” martini is very much determined by your personal preferences. I’ve typed up a foolproof classic martini recipe below. I’ve also provided suggested ingredients and details to help craft your perfect martini.
Whether you like your martini with gin or vodka, wet or dry, with a lemon twist or dirty with olives, this recipe is for you.
You’ll need just a few ingredients to make a martini at home:
A true martini is made with gin. London dry gin is traditional and offers a balanced blend of juniper and botanicals. Beefeater’s gin is a prime example and an excellent choice, whether you’re serving your martini with a twist or making it dirty.
Gin forms the backbone of martini flavor, so your choice of gin is key. Choose the gin that suits you best. Hendrick’s is an unconventional gin with light cucumber flavor that would be lovely in a martini served with a lemon twist.
While gin is classic, you might prefer vodka. I get it. Sometimes I’m more in the mood for a vodka martini. Vodka is less complex than gin so it yields a simpler drink. Any high quality vodka will do, such as Tito’s or Grey Goose.
It’s easy to think of a martini as a glass of straight liquor, but vermouth is absolutely key. Dry vermouth is clear or very pale yellow in color, so it blends in visually with the rest, but offers complex botanical flavors that you might describe as citrusy, herbaceous or floral. Dolin dry vermouth is light and citrusy and just right for martinis, in my opinion.
Compared to sweet vermouth, which is red, dry vermouth is made without any added sugar—hence the term dry. Perhaps confusingly, a “dry martini” is made with less dry vermouth than usual.
Tip: Vermouth will keep well in the fridge for up to three months. If you find yourself with extra, you might enjoy it over the rocks or mixed with sparkling water for a spritz.
Now then, are you serving your martini with a twist or green olives? There’s no wrong answer, but you must choose one of the two. Unless you’re making a dirty martini (option provided within the recipe), in which case olives are the definite choice.
Tip: If you’re opting for a twist, try to twist your lemon peel directly over the drink before dropping it in. Twisting it releases some of the oils, which will impart extra flavor to your drink.
Don’t forget the ice
No matter how you like your martini, we surely agree that we want it ice cold. Some prefer their martini on the rocks, but I always opt to serve martinis up in a martini glass. That way, they don’t get too watered down over time.
Even then, we’ll fill our cocktail glass with ice and water to chill it before serving, and we’ll also use plenty of ice (and plenty of stirring) while mixing the martini. Once the martini is properly chilled and lightly diluted by the ice, strain it into the chilled glass and savor it.
Watch How to Make a Martini
Martini Gin to Vermouth Ratios
The ratio of liquor to vermouth has a big impact on the final flavor of your martini, and you can tweak the ratio to suit your preferences. When you’re mixing, consider that liquor offers a strong bite of alcohol (typically 40% alcohol), and vermouth is about half that (Dolin dry is 18% alcohol).
2:1 ratio. The classic ratio is entirely up for debate, but two parts gin and one part vermouth seems perfectly balanced to my palate.
4:1 ratio. Dry martinis contain less vermouth than “classic” martinis, and again the ratio is debatable (anywhere from 3:1 to 9:1).
1:1 ratio. Equal parts gin and vermouth yield the the most mellow sipper of the bunch.
1:5 ratio. Julia Childs liked her martinis upside-down (otherwise known as reverse or wet martinis). She preferred much more vermouth, specifically Noilly Prat vermouth, to gin.
This one is interesting! “Three measures of Gordon’s [gin]; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.”
More Classic Cocktails to Make at Home
Here are a few of my favorite well-known cocktails. You’ll find plenty more, including fun seasonal options, in my cocktail archives.
Please let me know how your martini turns out in the comments! I love hearing from you. Cheers!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
- Category: Cocktail
- Method: Stirred
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
Make a classic martini at home with this foolproof recipe. Whether you like your martini with a twist of lemon or dirty with olives, this recipe is for you. Yields 1 cocktail as written; you can mix several at once if you’d like.
- 2 ounces gin or vodka
- 1 ounce dry vermouth
- For a dirty martini: 1 to 3 teaspoons olive brine
- Garnish: Strip of lemon peel (for a twist) or 2 cocktail olives
- Chill your martini glass by filling it to the brim with ice and water. Set it aside while you prepare the cocktail.
- Next, fill a mixing glass with ice. Pour in the gin and vermouth. If you’d like a dirty martini, start with 1 teaspoon olive brine.
- Use a mixing spoon to stir the mixture in a circular motion until it’s ice cold, about 30 seconds (which will seem like a long time, but it’s worth it). If you’re making a dirty martini, taste and add more brine by the teaspoon if desired.
- Discard the ice and water in your martini glass. Strain the cold martini mixture into the cold glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or olives. Enjoy!
To make a dry martini: Decrease the amount of vermouth. Try ½ ounce for a balanced but dry cocktail.
Suggested ingredients: London-style gin, such as Beefeater’s, yields the most classic martini. For the vermouth, Dolin dry is excellent. Gin is the traditional choice, but you can use vodka if preferred—try Tito’s or Grey Goose.
Measurement tips: Two ounces is ¼ cup. One ounce is 2 tablespoons. I like to use this stainless steel jigger (affiliate link) for measuring small amounts of liquid.
Much too much vermouth in those ratios. Drop a dollop of vermouth in the serving glass, give it a swirl and discard all that doesn’t adhere to the glass. Add chilled gin.
Thank you for your feedback, David. I love this recipe, but I’m glad you have one you enjoy.
Kate, my favorite way to have martinis on hand is mixing 1-2/3 C London dry din with 1/3 C dry vermouth. I put this into a jar, cover with a lid, and place directly into the freezer. When I want a martini, I pour out what I want and garnish with olives and maybe add a splash of olive juice for a dirty. Sometimes I will add an ice cube. Regardless, mix a batch and freeze for a fabulous drink!
Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for this definitive view of the martini!!. I am so used to people ordering with just a whisper of vermouth. I am going to try making one with the ratio you suggested. Who knows. I may end up with Julia’s martini!!
but but but … you have not said anything about my own creation: black forest martinis … a major favourite here at my condo on our Friday evening gatherings … I made it up one day when I was making the popular chocolate martinis and noticed a cherry liquor on the shelf … so added some to the chocolate martini … and voila!! a black forest martini!
Thank you! I’ve never made my own martini before and it always seemed intimidating. Can you PLEASE let me know where you got those star coupe glasses? LOVE LOVE LOVE them! Thanks for all the great recipes!
Great to hear, Sallyann! The glasses came from Crate and Barrel, purchased perhaps last year or the year before. I don’t see them on their website any more, unfortunately, but they do have some other beautiful coupes!
I never liked Martinis until I discovered I didn’t like the vermouth (may have been the quality). Today, I prefer them extra dry (aka no vermouth) and dirty. Brockman’s Gin is the most delicious I’ve found, definitely a sipping gin. Don’t make a G&T with it, the tonic ruins the herbal flavors.
1.5oz Brockman’s & .5oz olive brine over ice, stir for 30 seconds and my perfect martini is ready. Enjoy!!!