Classic Cocktails / Gin

Perfecting A Classic, Vol. 01: The Martini


The Martini-01 If you ask someone how he likes his martini, chances are, you’re going to get a very convicted, passionate response. Everyone likes his or her martini a specific way, which is, to them, the only way. The thing is, I started this blog to shake things up (pun intended) in my home bar. To experiment and make mistakes. To have some damn fun with cocktails! And the classic martini is no exception.

I’ve never been much of a martini drinker, so my predilections for “correctness” were nearly nonexistent. My best reference was to my dad’s preparation of choice, which consisted of mainly just gin with what he called “a whisper” of vermouth—an amount so small he likened it to quietly murmuring across the top of a chilled gin-filled glass, “vermouuuuuth.”

The Gin MartiniMe, I like a little more than a whisper in my martini. I also enjoy a dash of slightly-sweet bitters (oxymoron!) and even a splash of olive juice. My father probably won’t speak to me for awhile after I post this.

Another major martini controversy: shaken or stirred. I read up a bit on this in my new Death & Co. cocktail book (I honestly cannot recommend this book enough), and the general rule of thumb is: if the cocktail contains any opaque or cloudy ingredients, it should be shaken; a cocktail of transparent ingredients should be stirred. Since martinis are primarily gin and vermouth, stirred it is.

Here, I used a new gin recommended to me by my local spirits shop, Alchemy, which they said would be great for martinis and other cocktails alike. I love that it’s made locally, and well, the label is just plain cool.

The Martini 2-01

The stirring technique was a whole new beast to tackle—you can’t just stir it like a cup of coffee, there’s a science to it. I found this video helpful.

I think the version below is pretty tasty, but I encourage you to experiment and find the martini that works for you. Forget the rules. Cocktailing is for rebels.


The Gin Martini
makes 2 cocktails

  • 5 oz dry gin
  • 1.5 oz dry vermouth; I used Dolin
  • 6 dashes of bitters; I used Fee Brothers celery bitters
  • optional: splash of olive juice
  • 6 olives, pitted
  • mixing glass
  • bar spoon


Place 3 olives on each of two cocktail picks; set aside. In a mixing glass, add all other ingredients without ice, and give a good stir. Add several ice cubes (1-inch cubes are ideal), until the mixing glass is packed fairly tight.

Slide your bar spoon down the side of the glass so that the rounded side touches the glass. Place pointer and middle finger on inside of bar spoon (facing the ice) and the other two on the outside of the spoon (closer to the glass). Push the spoon with your ring finger, then pull with your middle finger, using the packed ice’s natural motion to mix. You shouldn’t be moving your arm much, only your fingers. Mix for about 20 seconds. Using a julep or regular cocktail strainer, strain equally into two martini or coupe glasses (chilled if possible!). Top with your olives.

IMG_5427Barware notes: I found the coupe glass at a thrift shop, but these are similar. The mixing glass is also from Umami Mart. Snag the Death & Co. book here. The gold cocktail picks are an old find from Crate & Barrel Outlet; similar can be found at Cocktail Kingdom, another ah-maz-ing bar-building resource. I want all the things.

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