Cocktails of the Week
Comments 13

Cocktail of the week no.8: the Martini

I’ve put off making a martini because people tend to be really, really opinionated about them, and I’m going to be the slightest bit unfashionable. I don’t like my martini dry. It’s just cold gin. I like gin, but drinking about 3oz of it practically neat is something I can’t do without grimacing. Even a 3:1 ratio, not considered particularly dry by today’s standards, where 7:1 is common and the ‘wave in the direction of Italy’ approach is ideal, is a bit too much gin. (Cf. The Zozzled Cocktail on this point)

Originally, a ‘dry’ martini referred to a martini made with dry vermouth, as opposed to sweet, and it used to be that ratios of gin to vermouth would be almost 1:1. Use sweet vermouth and you get something which more closely resembles the Martinez, the cocktail which supposedly gave rise to the martini. I’ve read so many wildly varying opinions about what a ‘classic’ martini should look like, The Gin Foundry settles on 4:1 gin to vermouth as ‘classic’ – anything with more vermouth is wet and with more vermouth is dry.

I’ve gone for the Serious Eats approach: 2:1 gin to dry vermouth, using Sipsmith’s London Dry and Noilly Prat. And I’ve gone for the orange bitters as well – historically accurate but not very on-trend at the moment. I like them in there – they detract slightly from the crispness but I can never say no to a hint of citrus.

I do love olives but generally I prefer them on the side of drinks rather than in them. I wish I could order a dirty Martini (it sounds so cool) but I honestly do not understand why you would put olive juice in such a pure-tasting drink, so I’ll stick with my lemon twist.


2 oz gin
1 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters

Stir all ingredients over ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon. Enjoy sense of elegance and sophistication while drinking (unless, like me, you’re liable to spill things, which ruins the effect).




  1. Although I am more of a vodka martini lover (I know, not exactly correct to the purist), I agree completely with you on the twist – it’s such a simple and clean finish to the cocktail.

  2. and one should never underestimate a martini’s strength, quoting dorothy parker:
    ‘i like to have a martini,
    two at the very most.
    after three, i’m under the table,
    after four i’m under my host.’

  3. ps. if you don’t like the olive then go for a gibson and use a pickled onion … aperitif combined with amuse geule! 🙂

  4. one should always mix to ones liking … after all that is how recipes develop! apparently i like my martini quite dry (using a ratio of 4:1 gin:vermouth) and with a dash of orange bitters too. but i am quite partial to a really dirty martini as well but when using a good quality olive and a dash of brine, i add a dash of angostura bitters too. just for fun 🙂

  5. You can never go wrong with a “classic.” That means vermouth and plenty of it! And don’t forget the bitters. Anything else is just sloggin’ gin.

  6. Very elegant! I like my Martinis drier than drier, even favouring the Harry’s Bar ratio of 15:1, but I’d go as far to say that without the bitters, whatever the ratio, it isn’t a Martini.

    I love your images, always beautifully shot, but do you always drink your cocktails in daylight hours only?

    • 15:1 – that’s a serious martini! I don’t usually have the luxury of daylight for photos, but I’ve had this week off so I’ve tried to catch the afternoon light and indulged in an early cocktail hour. Looking forward to summer when light will be easier to come by!

  7. I agree! I love gin. But, if I’m going to drink it, I want to bring out or complement some aspect of the gin I’m drinking. And that’s where the cocktail comes in. Otherwise, what’s the point? I’ve experimented with varying martini proportions, and have settled on 3:1, more or less. A lemon twist and orange bitters are always the right decision! I’m glad you were willing to stick your neck out in defense of the classic, if unfashionable, gin martini.

  8. I agree that the dry martini is very overrated. I feel like it’s the cocktail for people who want to drink a cocktail but don’t know anything about cocktails. If you can find Contratto vermouth, give it a shot. While Noilly Prat is a step above Cinzano or Martini & Rossi, I still find it has that sort of skunkiness common to lower-end vermouths. The Contratto dry is really top notch flavor-wise.

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