Martini Recipe

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: | Active Time: | Makes: 1 drink

The martini is made with gin and vermouth and is garnished with a twist of lemon peel or an olive—period. King Arthur’s knights searched in vain for the Holy Grail. The Spaniards sought the gold of El Dorado and the longevity of the Fountain of Youth. Lieutenant Gerard hunted Richard Kimble in The Fugitive. There is another modern quest, however, that has generated as much zeal and excitement: the search for the “perfect martini.” Armed with sterling silver shakers, vermouth droppers, and plenty of attitude and individuality, home bartenders mix and experiment with their martinis with alchemical precision. Meanwhile, devoted seekers of the perfect martini will flock to touted cocktail lounges like pilgrims to a revered shrine. It is a paradox indeed that the quintessential cocktail is so elusive.

The origin of the martini is also as elusive as the Grail itself. The controversy over who sired the first one spans the colorful to the prosaic, and we may never know if this “elixir of quietude,” “silver bullet,” and “Fred Astaire in a glass” was named for a man, a rifle, or a vermouth producer. Whether named for a thirsty traveler on his way to Martinez or for Martini di Arma di Taggia, bartender at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City, the martini is recognized as the world’s premier cocktail; its stylized icon for the cocktail lounge is as universally recognizable as the symbol for the stop sign.

Many excellent books detail the history and evolution of the martini and rhapsodize its... read more

  • 3 ounces gin
  • Dry vermouth
  • Green olives or twist of lemon peel
  1. Depending on your taste, mix 5 to 8 parts gin to 1 part vermouth for a dry martini. Use less vermouth for a drier martini. Stir in a pitcher half filled with ice, or shake with ice; then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with green olives or lemon peel. A “bone-dry” martini, also known as “pass the bottle,” contains no vermouth whatsoever.


The Gibson: The Gibson is made exactly like the martini, but a small cocktail onion is substituted for the olive. A number of stories exist regarding its origin, but the consensus is that it was named for the illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the era’s paradigm of female beauty, the Gibson Girl. Gibson and his cronies would often take a break from work and visit the Player’s Club for a few drinks. While journalists may feel inspired after a drink or two, an artist needs an absolutely steady hand. Gibson furtively asked the bartender, Charlie Connolly, to give him pure ice water. The drink was distinguished by a silver-skinned cocktail onion. Patrons soon began ordering their martinis with onions and calling them Gibsons to honor the inventor. Double onions were also ordered, paying homage to certain physical assets of the Gibson Girl.

Astoria: Add a dash of bitters.

Blue Martini: Substitute blue curaçao for the vermouth, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Cajun Martini: Noted chef Paul Prudhomme invented this drink by infusing a cut-up jalapeño pepper in a bottle of gin for half a day. The spicy liquor replaces the ordinary gin. Garnish with a slice of green tomato or pickled jalapeño. Vodka may be substituted for the gin.

Dirty Martini: Add a splash of olive brine, and garnish with a green olive.

Fino Martini: Substitute fino sherry for the vermouth.

Knickerbocker Martini: Substitute equal parts sweet and dry vermouth for the dry vermouth, and add a dash of bitters.

Montgomery: Named for a British general who would not go into battle unless his troops outnumbered the opposition 25 to 1, this martini uses the same proportion of gin to vermouth.

Naked Martini: Omit the vermouth. After shaking, turn in the direction of France, bow, and pour.

Odyssey: Mix Magellan French gin, Bossiere Italian vermouth, and a Greek cracked olive in brine.

Sakétini: Substitute 1 ounce sake for the vermouth.

Silver Bullet: Substitute Scotch for the vermouth.

This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.
Copyright Quirk Books