A martini is a serious cocktail, here is my favorite way to make it! This is my definition of a Perfect Martini. With gin, obviously, and a twist of lemon.
The Martini is the Granddaddy to Them All
OK, don’t run away. I know that the martini can be intimidating. It’s so strong! It’s so serious! It tastes like booze! I know the cocktails I shared this month were on the frou-frou side, but I actually don’t always drink sweet cocktails. Let me tell you, there is definitely a time and place for a SERIOUS cocktail, and the martini is the granddaddy to them all.
When Mr. Briar and I lived in Portland there was a place called Bar Mingo that had an amazing happy hour. The food was so great, and really well priced during happy hour. They only had a few happy hour drinks, though, and one of them was a martini. This is where I learned to appreciate the martini, and exactly how I like them. Made with gin, obviously, and with a twist of lemon. Not an olive. The lemon gives it such a nice, clean flavor, and I don’t actually like olives, so it is better all around. Of course you can put an olive in there if you want, but at least try it with the twist, it really is so good.
You Want the Flavor of the Gin to Shine
We learned how to make this martini from Michael Ruhlman, and when we get the urge for one very strong drink this is how we make it. This martini is on the dry side, although there is plenty of argument out there about what makes a dry martini. I think a little vermouth is what makes it a martini and not just gin, but you want the flavor of the gin to shine, so not too much vermouth. We usually use the cap of the vermouth bottle to measure it, which I found out when making this recipe holds a quarter ounce. I like to zest the lemon right over the martini glass so that some of the lemon oils get in there, and you can also give the zest a little twist above the glass before throwing it in the drink in order to release some more oils.
James Bond was Wrong
It helps to chill your martini glasses, and if you can keep them in your freezer that is ideal. We did that until we moved into this apartment with the stupid side-by-side freezer that barely has room for anything. If you can’t keep them in the freezer, you can fill the glass with ice and water to chill while you make the drink, then toss it out right before pouring in your drink.
Also, you probably have heard this by now, but James Bond was wrong. You don’t shake the martini, but you do stir it, or even just swirl it gently. Shaking is great for other cocktails that are not clear, or have ingredients with different viscosity (oooh, look at me and my big words). But to retain that crystal clear look you don’t want to shake the martini, or it will get cloudy (and apparently you can “bruise” the gin? I don’t know…).
The Perfect Martini
- 3 ounces gin I prefer Hendricks
- 1/4 ounce dry vermouth
- strip of lemon zest
- In a pint glass or cocktail shaker, add ice, gin and vermouth. Allow them to sit, without shaking or stirring, for 2-3 minutes. You can swirl it a few times if you want.
- If you are zesting the lemon, do it right over the martini glass.
- Strain the martini into a chilled martini glass, give the lemon zest a twist over the glass and add it to the drink.
- Serve right away to your adoring fans.
Recipe slightly adapted from Michael Ruhlman
What are you doing New Years Eve? (PS, now you have that song stuck in your head, don’t you?)
It was so funny to read this considering I literally walk past Bar Mingo 3 times a week, yet haven’t been in over 5 years.
Adding it back to the list, and thanks for sharing this martini recipe. Going to try this one myself!
I hope you love it!
Dave Z says
This is almost exactly how I’ve always enjoyed my martinis. Chilled glass, check. Stirred not shaken, check. Light touch of vermouth, check. Lemon zest and twist, whaaaaaaatttt? I’ve always been an olive guy (must be 1 or 3), and sometimes I’d have mine a bit dirty. Out of olives today I decided to give this a try exactly as directed, and was so surprised to find I enjoyed the lemon twist immensely. I may not give up olives entirely, but I think from now on this will be be my usual. Thanks!
So glad you enjoyed it Dave! I love the extra flavor the lemon gives!
This is a lovely blog site and I am sure that many of your recipes are quite delicious. The pictures are certainly enticing.
Three things seriously wrong with this post:
1. A true “perfect” martini is a recipe containing both sweet and dry vermouth
2. A “classic” martini, which contains only gin and dry vermouth should be made at a ratio of 3:1. This nonsensical idea of shorting the vermouth is conceit of snobs who are trying to impress. Just have cold gin if that’s what you want.
3. It should absolutely be shaken, The cloudiness is the indicator that it has been rendered cold enough. In fact the outside of the metal shaker should be frosty from shaking the ice with the gin. And, no, you can’t “bruise” the gin.
And it should be served with two, blue cheese stuffed olives in it.
Exactly, a classic martini is equal parts sweet and dry vermouth with gin. Ranging from 3:1 all the way to equal parts of gin:vermouth. Just a “drop” or vermouth is an affectation; prolly developed by alkys who head right to the strong booze!
Alright Martini police – bet you’re fun at parties!
Just a few counter points to your snobbery!
a) The “Perfect Martini” cocktail is yes a cocktail that comprises of equal parts gin, dry vermouth, and sweet vermouth – but that is not the same thing as your classic martini which, if you read the post, you’d know is what she is talking about. Perfect in this sense means her idea of a perfect classic martini. There’s really no need to be so pedantic over her choice of words, like go play with a puppy or something jeez.
b) The “official” standard recipe calls for 3:1 in a classic martini – but, like with basically everything, there’s room for preference. You prefer more vermouth – great, put more vermouth in! But that does not make having a very dry martini wrong, and certainly isn’t snobby, it’s preference. If you can’t appreciate the difference between no vermouth and a little then you probably should have just plain gin yourself! Extremely dry martini’s have been popular since pretty much martini’s have been made – there’s an old joke that says a perfect martini is a glass of gin that you just wave in the general direction of Italy. Obviously that is hyperbole, but very dry martini’s are a classic.
c) No, you do not shake a martini. The cloudiness is not a sign it’s properly chilled, lord knows where you read that! No, you cannot “bruise” gin, but shaking it makes it cloudy because of the air and ice shards you are adding into it – and vermouth doesn’t take kindly to shaking visually. The reasons you don’t shake a martini are 1. you over mix it so you can’t taste each individual ingredient, it all just blends together, which is exactly what you want for a cocktail with non-homogenous ingredients like juice, milk, egg etc in it but not a cocktail that’s just gin and vermouth otherwise why are you even having a martini? 2. It over dilutes it, all that ice breaking up puts a lot of water in your drink, not at all what you want, and 3. It adds a lot of air to it, completely changing the mouth feel – you want your martini smooth and thick. If you stir a cocktail properly it will be well chilled and have plenty enough dilution without over diluting. Now, if you prefer the taste and mouth feel of a shaken martini, you do you (but dear god please double strain it!) – but it’s incorrect to claim it’s supposed to be shaken, particularly for the reasons you gave (for the record, you do shake a dirty martini). Personally – I think a martini should be stirred quite a bit more than Meghan’s recipe states, but if that’s how she likes to make her martini then there certainly isn’t anything wrong with that.
d) The choice of garnish is 100% in the hands of the drinker! I personally also go for a lemon twist because I love the aroma it gives it. Want an olive? Have an olive! And a blue cheese stuffed olive is certainly not the classic garnish anyway so I don’t really get your point.
e) The most important point is that the recipe clearly states this is her idea of a perfect martini – you don’t have to agree, but you certainly can’t tell her she is wrong, because you are not her taste buds! Cocktail history is on her side when it comes to a super dry martini, but again it’s all about preference. My idea of a perfect martini is actually a vesper (stirred of course), but that’s just me. Make yours the way you like it, and let others make theirs the way they like it! And get over yourself!
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says
That is indeed a perfect martini! Love the lemon peel too!
Thank you Kathy!
Stephanie | The Foodie and The Fix says
Confession: I’ve never actually had a martini… because I’ve always been kind of afraid of it. I’m not exactly sure why, I like gin and I like vermouth. I think maybe it’s because often when I see “how to make a martini” it’ll say something like, “swirl in some vermouth and then discard it” and straight-up hard liquor sounds kinda scary to me! Your recipe sounds a lot less intimidating though and I love the idea of the lemon twist. You’ve completely inspired me. I’m putting Hendricks on my grocery list. (Vermouth and lemons are always in the house) 🙂 Pinning!
I felt the same way Stephanie! It is pretty strong, but it is a sipping drink 🙂 And when you let it sit in the ice for awhile it gets a little bit diluted, so it isn’t just GIN. But it is an experience of a drink, I do recommend it 🙂 Thank you for the pin!
Lisa @ Chocolate Meets Strawberry says
Well, I’ve learnt a lot from this. Being a total cocktail noob myself, I had no idea you weren’t supposed to shake a martini! I mean, who would think to contradict 007? Glad you had the courage to Meghan! A cloudy martini – no thanks 😉 I don’t really drink much but am always intrigued by cocktails and do enjoy those of the lighter variety (especially if they contain Frangelico…my absolute weakness). I think I would still go for this one anyway, if only so I could hold a pretty martini glass in my hand. So stylish!
Thank you Lisa! The martini might be a drink you just want a sip of if you like the lighter cocktails, but it is always a good one to know how to make 🙂
You’ve perfectly captured the essence of a perfect martini! But your Maple Whiskey Cider has my name all over it 🙂
Thank you Sue! The martini is more of an occasional drink for me – the maple whiskey cider is something I can drink wanytime! 🙂
First, Meghan, all the best for a wonderful 2016!
Thank you SO MUCH for bowing to the tradition of making that glorious Martini with gin. Vodka is simply not acceptable to us purists. You want that juniper to shine through. Also, gentle stirring really does retain the clarity of the gin. We’re going to have a couple of these tonight to usher in the new year in style.
Thank you so much Lizzie! Yes, it is gin or nothing in my house! At least when it comes to martinis 🙂 I hope you enjoy them and have a wonderful start to the new year!
You crack me up!! Great instructions & I especially enjoy Mr. Briar’s comment to kiss your partner!! Glad you’re enjoying your celebration at home. Sounds tantalizing!????⭐️??❤️
Happy New Year!
Lauren Gaskill | Making Life Sweet says
I love the twist of lemon Meghan! I’ve actually never had a martini (GASP) but I think that will be changing soon!
The lemon twist is awesome! The martini is for sure something to try, it isn’t for everyone, but now and then they are pretty great 🙂 Cheers!
This is so embarrassing, but I don’t think I’ve ever made a proper martini. I’ve definitely put all the ingredients into a glass and consumed them, but of course they never taste as good as a professionally prepared one. I gotta work on my cocktail game.
Also, the comment about mine is just too cute. You guys!
Now you can! I feel ike it is an intimidating cocktail even though it is simple. But made right, it is the best. Make one! And tell me about it. Also, lolol, we are pretty adorable/obnoxious sometimes, twue love <3
Mr Briar says
Don’t forget to twist the lemon peel over your martini glass! Crucial step.
Optional step from Ruhlman: Kiss your partner.
Yes, the lemon twist is key! And also the kiss (kiss emoji)