You don’t feel much classier than you do when you order a martini.
You feel like James Bond, like a Hollywood superstar from the ‘50s, or like a business executive from the “Mad Men” era.
But that’s only if you know what you’re doing. The martini may be simple – but ordering it properly is anything but. If you’ve never had a martini before, you may be a bit overwhelmed. Shaken or stirred? How many olives? How dry? What liquor should be used? Will you get the right glass?
Don’t worry. The piquant taste and sharp bite of the martini does not have to be reserved for regulars at martini bars who could order their preferred drink blindfolded – with both hands behind their backs.
So, how can you avoid stumbling through your drink order when ordering a martini, and order like a pro – despite the massive amount of variety in how martinis are prepared? Keep reading this guide, of course! Let’s get into it.
How to Order a Martini
A martini is a very simple cocktail, but there are many different options and modifications that could change it dramatically – and leave you with a nasty drink, if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s one of the reasons that it’s had such a long-lasting impact in cocktail culture. Everyone likes their martinis a little bit different.
Without further ado, here are the step-by-step instructions for crafting your order, and getting a martini that Bond himself could be proud of.
1. Choose Your Type of Liquor
First, we’ll start with the base liquor used in the martini. A traditional martini includes two liquors – gin, which is a neutral spirit flavored with juniper berries, and vermouth, which is a botanical fortified wine.
However, it’s become quite common to replace the gin in a martini with vodka, due to the divisiveness of gin – some can’t stand its medicinal odor and taste, while others swear by it. Vermouth, however, can’t really be replaced by another spirit. Then, you wouldn’t really be drinking a martini at all. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that defeats the purpose of ordering one in the first place, right?
If you want a martini with gin, just order a “martini”. Any bar worth its liquor license will make it with gin. But if you’d prefer vodka, make sure you specify a “vodka martini”.
And don’t listen to martini purists – there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ordering a vodka-based martini, if that’s what you prefer.
You can also specify a brand of liquor to use. You could ask for Hendrick’s Gin, or Absolut Vodka, for example. But don’t worry, if you don’t, the bartender brand.
2. Choose the Ratio of Vodka or Gin to Vermouth (Dry Or Wet)
Here’s where you start to get into that confusing martini “slang”. “Dryness” and “wetness” refers to the percentage of vermouth used in the cocktail.
A standard martini has about one part of vermouth to about four parts of gin or vodka, though this may vary a bit based on the pour, bartender, and establishment. However, it’s still a good rule of thumb – vodka makes up most of the drink, with vermouth adding a botanical bouquet of aromas and flavors.
A “wet” martini has a larger percentage of vermouth. This means the vermouth taste will be stronger – and the drink will be weaker. Vermouth has an ABV of only about 16-18%, as it’s a fortified wine, not a true spirit.
By contrast, a “dry” martini has a higher percentage of gin or vodka to vermouth than the standard. If you order a “very dry” or “extra dry” martini, it will have next-to-no vermouth – and be almost “neat”.
3. Choose Other Additions and Garnishes
There are plenty of other ways to customize your martini.
For example, a “dirty” martini also includes olive juice, as well as the traditional one or two-olive garnish. Another customization option is ordering a “sweet” martini. This will get you sweet vermouth instead of dry vermouth. As the name implies, sweet vermouth is quite a bit sweeter than “dry” vermouth, and has a less bitter taste and aroma.
Finally, you could choose a “perfect” martini, which uses a blend of both sweet and dry vermouth.
As far as garnishes go, it’s hard to beat the “olive on a stick” that’s been standard for years. You can also order it “with a twist” which will get you a twist of lemon peel, or you can go “clean” for no garnish at all.
As far as garnishes go, a standard martini has an olive as a garnish. You can order yours “with a twist,” though, which replaces the olive with a twist of lemon peel. If you want your martini with no garnish at all, order it “clean.”
4. Choose Your Blending Preference
At most high-end bars, the bartender will stir the martini unless you specify otherwise. But if you, like James Bond, prefer your martini “shaken, not stirred” just ask. Your martini will be blended in a cocktail shaker, for a more smooth and unified flavor.
You can also choose a “naked” martini. The bartender won’t mix your liquors at all before serving the drink.
5. Choose Your Presentation
Last, choose how you want your martini served. Traditionally, you’ll order it “straight up”. This means the liquors will be mixed with ice to chill, but be strained, so that there is no ice in the glass.
You could also choose to have the martini “neat”, if you prefer room-temperature cocktails, or you could have it poured “on the rocks” over ice, for a more long-lasting chill. It’s all up to you!
Enjoying Your Perfect Martini
There are two people who are in charge of building the perfect martini – you and your bartender. So now that you know how to order exactly what you want, you need to find the perfect martini bar near you. So check out our restaurant and bar for your next happy hour – and achieve martini perfection!