Going to a bar without having your drink order mastered is nerve-wracking. Any good bar with a good bartender should be able to walk you through the options, but who wants to ask? This simple guide will teach you how to order a martini like a boss in any American bar!
What is a Martini?
A martini is an old cocktail dating back to 1922, when it gained notoriety, but it was likely served in some variation even before then. A classic martini is made with gin and dry vermouth. The traditional garnishes are olives or a lemon twist.
Since 1922, the martini has changed a lot! You can find martini recipes to fit every type of flavor. When it comes to ordering a martini at a restaurant or bar, knowing what you’re ordering will make you feel a lot more confident in the process.
How to Order a Martini
Gin or Vodka
Traditional martini recipes call for gin, but ordering a vodka martini has become increasingly popular. When you order, this should be the first thing you specify.
Gin is a spirit distilled from grain or malt and flavored with juniper berries. The flavor is herbal and unique. You’ll instantly know it’s gin when the flavors hit your tongue.
Vodka is a more neutral, tasteless spirit. Vodka martinis will have a milder flavor than gin. Never assume a bartender will make your martini with your preferred liquor. Always take a moment to clarify.
Bars offer different brands of each base spirit, but a midrange option is typically the default if you don’t specify. You can request a certain brand of vodka or gin, but expect a higher price tag on your tab.
Wet or Dry
Next, you should tell the bartender if you want your martini wet, dry, or very dry. These terms tell the bartender how much vermouth, a type of fortified wine, to include in your drink.
A traditional martini is made with 1 part dry vermouth and 3 to 4 parts gin or vodka. Ordering your martini wet, dry, or very dry will specify how much vermouth you want in the cocktail. If you want the traditional ratio, no specification is needed.
A wet martini will have more vermouth. You’ll taste more of the sweetness and bitterness from the vermouth, but the overall alcohol content of your martini will be lower.
A dry martini is a martini with less vermouth than usual. The flavor of the gin or vodka will stand out more, while the vermouth will be more subtle.
Dry martinis are the strongest type you can order in flavor and alcohol content. An extra dry martini will have little to no vermouth in it. This is just a step away from ordering your gin or vodka in a rocks glass.
Shaken or Stirred
Classic martinis are served stirred, but ordering a shaken martini is not out of the norm. If you order a stirred martini, the ingredients will be added to a martini glass. The bartender will use a bar spoon to gently stir the ingredients in the cocktail glass before garnishing and serving.
If you order a martini shaken, the ingredients will be added to a cocktail shaker with ice and shaken until well-combined. This method leads to less of a pure cocktail, but it will be ice cold. A shaken martini is then strained into a glass, garnished, and served.
Order a martini like a true James Bond fan, saying, “shaken, not stirred.” Fair warning: the bartender has heard this line before, but does it really ever get old?
The least common way to order a martini is naked. A naked martini is made by pouring the ingredients into a cocktail glass and serving as-is without mixing. This is sometimes called a clean martini too. It’s a way to let an already simple cocktail have distinct flavors from each ingredient without mixing.
Sweet, Perfect, Dirty, & Extra Dirty Martinis
There are a few other variations you can make when ordering a martini. A martini served sweet is made with sweet vermouth instead of dry vermouth. As you’d expect, the cocktail will be sweeter.
A perfect martini is made using equal parts dry vermouth and sweet vermouth. This is a good way to order a martini if you’re feeling indecisive and want a bit of both flavors.
A dirty martini is made using olive brine. Olive brine is just olive juice from the jar, but it adds a nice layer of flavor to your vodka or gin martini. Extra dirty martinis are made the same way featuring even more olive brine. Dirty and extra dirty will have a cloudy appearance compared to a standard martini.
Garnish your Martini
Finally, you can choose a garnish. The most common garnishes for martinis are a lemon peel twist, olives, and cocktail onions. Garnishing your martini comes down to personal preference and what flavors you enjoy.
Opting for a cocktail onion will add a bit of a kick to your martini. This is most common with a dirty or extra-dirty martini.
An olive garnish is timeless, classic, and flavorful. Chilled olives are placed on a cocktail stick and then put into the martini. They’ll add some flavor to your cocktail and add a snack for later! Olive garnishes can be used with either gin or vodka.
A lemon twist is the most simplistic garnish, but something about it is delightfully refreshing. A twist of lemon peel is placed in the cocktail before it’s served. The change will be subtle, but you should notice a nice citrus undertone to your drink.
What is in a martini?
A traditional martini contains either gin or vodka and dry vermouth.
What garnish is used for a martini?
Popular martini garnishes include olives, cocktail onions, and lemon twists.
Can you change the way your martini is prepared?
You can customize your martini by telling the bartender how you want it mixed, if you want more dry vermouth or less, and if you want to add olive juice. Martinis can be made in so many variations. The limit is your imagination!
Whether you take your martini dry, wet, dirty, clean, or any other way, sipping from a martini glass makes everyone feel fancy! Don’t be afraid to mix up your martini order until you find the perfect combination.