The martini is the world’s most famous cocktail but how do you get the perfect version of the perfect drink right?

James Bond liked his “shaken not stirred,” while Winston Churchill is quoted as saying: “I would like to observe the vermouth from across the room while I drink my martini,” when asked how much vermouth he’d like in his cocktail.

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For this world-famous drink, we spoke to three pros who offered the following tips and tricks on making a mean martini…

1. The martini mix is key

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Alessandro Palazzi ‘Bartender’ (@alessandro_palazzi)

Alessandro Palazzi is the bar manager at Dukes Hotel, London, where Dukes’ most famous customer, Sir Ian Fleming is said to have penned Bond’s legendary catchphrase.

“It’s all down to your choice of ingredients,” says Palazzi. “For the perfect martini, you have to make sure the glass, the temperature, the vermouth and the spirit are spot on. The spirit is the star of the show, so always choose the highest quality gin you can afford if going for a traditional martini. I like No.3 Gin as it has the perfect balance of juniper, citrus and spice.”

2. It must be served icy-cold

An icy-cold martini
(Grey Goose/PA)

Joe McCanta, global brand ambassador for Grey Goose vodka, says you need to make it your mission to chill the entire lot down. “Everything about a martini needs to be cold! Make sure your spirit is chilled, keep your vermouth in the fridge and most importantly chill your glass. Putting a perfectly chilled martini into a frozen glass is akin to a chef serving a main dish on a warm plate.”

3. Model your martini to suit your taste

“The martini is the most personal of drinks and that’s what makes it so iconic – it’s a drink you can truly make your own,” notes McCanta. “I love the versatility of the drink – a wet martini on the rocks or a bone dry version with a twist.”

Whether a martini cocktail is ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ simply refers to the relative amount of vermouth vs. vodka or gin used. McCanta says a dry martini has a very small amount of vermouth – sometimes the glass has a slight rinse or just a few drops if ‘bone dry’. While a wet martini has a greater amount of vermouth and therefore is likely to be a bit sweeter. A classic wet martini has about three parts vodka and one part vermouth.

4. Consider: shaken or stirred?

Shaken Not Stirred James Bond GIF by Top 100 Movie Quotes of All Time - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

“There’s always the question of shaken versus stirred and the truth is, have it how you like,” suggests McCanta. “A shaken martini gets super cold and is best if you’re going to drink it short, and relatively quick. A stirred martini has a lovely luminance and most importantly stays cold much longer, as it has a bit less dilution, so one to try if you want to savour it a bit.”

5. Get the dilution spot on

Sam Carter, senior ambassador for Bombay Sapphire, says the secret to a great martini is just the right amount of dilution from the cubed ice. “Not too much, not too little. Generally, if you fill a large mixing glass full of cubed ice and add 10ml of vermouth to 50ml of gin (a 5:1 ratio), you’ll be required to stir for around 15-18 revolutions and you should be in the right ballpark of perfect dilution.

“Don’t leave it in the mixing glass for too long, however, otherwise it’ll keep melting and potentially over-dilute, shock-horror! Strain the cocktail into a very cold martini cocktail glass to keep the drink cold and stop further dilution,” adds Carter.

6. To garnish or not to garnish?

A pair of garnished martinis

“Some would say the star of the show, but if you’ve got a tasty combination of vermouth and gin then you don’t always need a garnish. This would be known as a naked martini,” explains Carter.

“However, if you love green olives or cocktail onions, then go for them. If you love citrus then choose between a long citrus peel twist of lemon, lime, orange or pink grapefruit. None are wrong and the world most certainly is your oyster.

“Just try to stir your creativity and complement your choice of citrus with the lead botanicals within your chosen gin.”

Basic martini recipe

How wet or dry your martini is a matter of personal choice, but a standard mix typical calls for four parts gin to one part vermouth.

  • 60ml gin (or vodka, if you prefer)
  • 15ml dry vermouth
  • olives or lemon peel, to garnish

Try a Marmalade breakfast martini – the perfect drink for a boozy brunch.

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