Martini. Perhaps the most classic of all the cocktails. And the most versatile. You can go to any number of restaurants and find an extensive martini menu: apple, chocolate, lemon, mint, cucumber, strawberry, pineapple, the list goes on. Now, purists will say those are flavored cocktails and not worthy of the label “Martini.”
When I think of a Martini, my first thought is James Bond. I’m a big fan of the 007 series, owning all the films and always excited for the new ones. Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig … the stars of the show all have 1 thing in common. Okay, yes, they like women, but they also all order Martinis — despite Bond ordering various types of drinks throughout the series, the Martini is the most iconic of them all. He more often that not orders vodka Martinis, a departure from the classic gin-based cocktail. Bond’s first Martini included both vodka and gin — his Vesper in Ian Fleming’s first book, Casino Royale, was a mix of gin, vodka and Kina Lillet, shaken. But away from the Vesper in his earliest incarnations, the 1954 novel Live and Let Die, for example, Bond did order vodka Martinis.
The original Martini, allegedly invented in the U.S. in the 1860s, was made with sweet vermouth. One of the first recipes for a dry Martini, made with dry vermouth, appeared in Frank P. Newman’s 1904 American Bar. I’ve written here the true classic recipe for a Martini and not the ones that are only gin or vodka with olives shoved in it to make it feel like you’re not just sipping on straight liquor. But hey, if that’s what you want, go for it.
- 2 ounces dry gin
- 1 ounce dry vermouth
- 1 dash orange bitters (optional, but highly recommended)
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill with ice.
Stir well to chill and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink and use as garnish, or, if you must, toss in an olive.
The Dirty Martini is a classic that is a simple, and popular, variation of the original Martini. The dirty part comes from the use of olive juice, which is really nice with a quality gin and vermouth. You can make this drink as dirty as you like, just add or subtract the amount of juice. It may take a few Dirty Martinis to find the balance that is perfect for your taste. The recipe below is a good starting place, but I have some friends who would argue it is not “dirty” enough. I don’t like olives, so you’ll never catch me having one of these!
Many people prefer to use the brine or juice that is in a jar of olives since it’s so convenient. However, there are also a number of juices that are bottled separately from olives. Have fun, make what you love and enjoy!
- 2 1/2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
- 1/4-1/2 ounce olive juice, to taste
- Olive for garnish
- Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice.
- Shake or Stir depending on your Bond-ness
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with an olive.