Meehan’s Bartender Manual : The Martini


Several recipes incorporating various proportions of dry gin, dry vermouth, and orange bitters appear around the turn of the century under many titles, making the Martini’s origin difficult to pin down. Frank Newman lists a ‘Dry Martini’ prepared with Martini dry vermouth in his 1904 French bar guide, American Bar, which leads me to believe the reputation of the vermouth brand had something to do with the name’s sticking.


Before the word cocktail became the umbrella term for mixed drinks a decade ago, Martini referred to a mixed drink served up in a V-shaped glass. Over the course of the last century, the recipe has vacillated between gin and vodka mixed with varying measures of dry vermouth, served with olives, a lemon twist, or both. The words ‘wet’ (perceptible vermouth) and ‘dry’ (little to no vermouth) refer to the amount of vermouth the guest would like in the drink, with ‘dirty’ called for if they’d like olive brine added. The Martini has been shaken, stirred, and poured undiluted from a freezer into a glass sprayed with vermouth by devotees of the drink over many generations, so there’s a wide range of options to consider.

Given free rein, focus on pairing a gin and vermouth with complementary botanicals, and dial back the vermouth in your vodka Martini so the mouthfeel of the base spirit is perceptible. Choosing the right proportions of gin and vermouth, incorporating enough dilution through stirring, and serving it at the proper temperature (arctic) all distinguish a great Martini from a merely good one.


Most people who order Martinis make them at home or know exactly how they’d like theirs prepared, so focus your creativity elsewhere. For a nice touch, serve the drink in a smaller glass, with the balance in an iced carafe on the side and a small plate for the olives.


Stir with ice, then strain into a chilled coupe. Twist a lemon peel over the surface and garnish with the olive.

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For more recipes and insight on your favorite libations, check out Meehan’s Bartender Manual.

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  • 2.25 oz. Fords gin
  • 0.75 oz. Dolin dry vermouth
  • Lemon peel
  • Garnish: 1 olive

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