How To Make The Best Classic Martini (Hint: Stir, Don’t Shake)
— 16 June 2023

How To Make The Best Classic Martini (Hint: Stir, Don’t Shake)

— 16 June 2023
Randy Lai
Randy Lai
1 serving(s)
Prep Time:
5 mins


  • 2 oz Gin/Vodka
  • 1 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 1 Dash Orange bitters (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice.
  2. Stir well to chill and strain into a chilled cocktail glass of your preference.
  3. Express a piece of lemon peel over your drink.
  4. Use the peel as garnish or alternatively, add 2-3 olives.

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The “King of Cocktails” in this writer’s humble estimation — and evidently one important enough to warrant its own annual day of celebration come June 17th — few things are capable of cheering me up so directly as a well-made, rip-roaringly cold dry Martini.

Another stirred American invention that has been popular since at least the Roaring Twenties, the Martini’s fantastic charm (and folly) rest in its simplicity.

Like pasta cacio e pepe, the archetypal Martini recipe consists of simple and widely available — almost to the point of banal — ingredients. To recap: you’ll need a foundational spirit, usually vodka or gin; dry vermouth; and ice… lots and lots of ice.

At one time a beverage rife with connotations of class elitism — given its popularity amongst European and American café society — the Martini has made a comeback in recent years (much overdue in my own view) that, at least in Australia, is now even confirmed by cold hard statistical truth.

Earlier this June, local tap-and-pay platform me&u revealed 12% of all national cocktail sales can now be attributed to some version of the Martini, outdoing the Margarita as a category by about 4% over the last 12 months.

Truthfully, if you’d stopped reading three or four paragraphs ago, that would be perfectly understandable. After all, the practical steps involved in how to make a Martini are minimal; but, for those of you who harbour a perfectionist streak, I’ve thrown in some choice bits of wisdom — borne of countless hours making and obsessing over Martinis at home — that may well ruin those lukewarm, $28 excuse of a cocktails we’ve all had the displeasure of ordering on a night out.

Remember, in the immortal words of James Thurber:

“One Martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough.”

Tips For Making The Perfect ‘Classic’ Martini Cocktail

#1 – Chill Your Ingredients Ahead Of Time

(Image Credit:

Serving your Martini into a chilled cocktail glass — I recommend chucking a few into the freezer 30 minutes prior to use — is common, non-negotiable wisdom. But what’s less well-understood is that you can (and probably should) apply the same principle to your foundational spirit of choice.

Under normal freezer conditions, only bottles below 50 proof (i.e. 20% ABV) will be capable of properly freezing — well below the alcohol content you’ll find offered by popular vodka and gin producers. Instead, as the ambient temperature drops, the viscosity of these liquids increases, giving them a pronounced mouthfeel, enhanced texture and dulling the amount of ethanol that we, as drinkers, can perceive.

The knock-on effect is also that working with freezer vodka/gin ensures that glassware stays chilled for longer: crucially, giving you an additional minute or two to enjoy your Martini at its optimal temperature.

For the more strategic drinker: you can even freeze a large batch of “make-ahead” Martinis (for which we published an excellent recipe, penned by ex-Eaux de Vie heavy Tom Egerton, last year).

#2 – God Is In The Details

In case I haven’t already been perfectly clear: the Martini recipe is not a complicated one to make. Rather, it’s all the stuff which happens around the mixing of this cocktail that leaves the most room for expression.

Do you prefer olives or a lemon twist as garnish? Is the shape of a classic coupe glass or Nick & Nora more appealing? How about a few dabs of olive oil if you’re really looking to ante up the umami factor? Or gin that has been finished in a cask of some description to add an extra element of flavour?

Among other things, these are all factors well worth considering, even before you begin building ice into your mixing glass.

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#3 – Learn The Rules, Then Go Break Them

Martini recipe
Pictured: Master bartender Ago Perrone of Connaught Bar fame — the 8th best cocktail den in the world.

Finally — and I really can’t stress this enough — the Martini’s time-honoured reputation as a blueprint, rather than strict dogma, mean that once you’ve gotten comfortable with the default formula (i.e. the recipe we’ve chosen to recommend above) you should feel at ease tweaking things so as to better reflect your own (hopefully deeply personal) drinking preferences.

The most direct way of achieving this is to mess with the Martini’s spirit-to-vermouth ratio; a hotly contested, controversially evergreen topic over which boozehounds have been known to come to blows. Proportionately, a bigger serve of vermouth will give you a “wetter” drinking experience. Something that is conducive to the “dirty” style of Martini drinking (i.e. fortified with olive juice) that’s inexplicably everywhere all the time these days.

And remember: if you ever feel yourself agonising over whether your chosen method is the “correct” one, you can always fall back on the wisdom of Paul Clarke, Editor-in-Chief of Imbibe Magazine, who has this to say on the subject of breaking with convention:

“If you prefer your Martini with only the merest whiff of vermouth, then go for it. Or, if you like up to equal parts gin and vermouth, there’s a firm historical foundation (not to mention a culinary one) for going that direction… whatever; mix it the way you like.”

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].


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