How to Make a Martini (Plus 6 Variations Every Gentleman Should Try)

The martini is a classic and iconic cocktail that has stood the test of time. But did you know there are over 50 different martini recipes? Yet, most of them have little or no resemblance to the original classic martini.

In this post, we’ll focus on the tried-and-true traditional recipes. And the best part is, making a martini is a reasonably straightforward process.

Don't have time to read the whole post? Watch our short tutorial.

Origin of the Martini Cocktail

Many stories surrounding the invention of James Bond's favorite drink have been passed down the generations. Some people believe it to have been invented in San Francisco by Jerry Thomas (considered the father of American mixology) around 1850 for a miner on his way to Martinez, California. 

New Yorkers insist that a bartender at the Knickerbocker Hotel named Martini di Arma di Taggia invented it in 1911 for John D. Rockefeller.

Another legend claims that the cocktail may have gotten its name when an Italian vermouth maker started marketing their product under the brand name of Martini in 1863, after its director Alessandro Martini.


The first known written recipe of the martini debuted on O. H. Bryson’s 1884 cocktail book, The Modern Bartender, where the drink is referred to as a variation of the Manhattan.

So it’s safe to say the drink was invented in the middle to the late 19th century, but exactly who created the martini is likely to remain the stuff of legend.

Main Ingredients of a Classic Martini Cocktail

Gin or Vodka

A classic Martini calls for gin. Still, some people prefer vodka over gin. Depending on what base you choose, your martini is going to taste different. The more traditional choice, gin, offers a sophisticated flavor. While vodka, on the other hand, gives the martini a smoother taste. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference. Whether you choose vodka or gin, ensure you select a high-quality one. 

Dry Vermouth

Vermouth is a wine that’s been sweetened, fortified with a little hit of high-proof alcohol, and then aromatized with various herbs. There are two main types of vermouth: sweet and dry. Most Martini cocktail recipes with Gin call for dry vermouth.

Ensure you always store your vermouth in the refrigerator, and no longer than a month since the flavors will change. There’s nothing worse than a left-out bottle of vermouth that has turned to vinegar. As to the difference between sweet and dry vermouth, sweet vermouths usually contain 10%–15%sugar, while dry vermouth usually contains 4%. 

Vesper Martini Cocktail Recipe

The Vesper Martini first appeared in the 1953 novel Casino Royal, the first book in his series. 

It was named after the MI6 agent Vesper Lynd sent from a different division to aid James in his capture of Le Chiffre(main antagonist).  In the novel, she was depicted as a beautiful woman with subtle tones, which is a perfect comparison to this cocktail.

This cocktail is shaken, not stirred. Remember James Bond catchy phrase?

Video Tutorial for Vesper Martini Cocktail Recipe


  • 1.5 oz Gin 
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • 0.25 oz Dry Vermouth
  • Thin lemon peel garnish

How to Make a Vesper Martini

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. In a cocktail shaker,  add the gin, vodka, and dry vermouth.
  3. Add ice cubes.
  4. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  5. Garnish with a thin slice of lemon peel.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Popular Variations of the Martini Cocktail

There are a variety of adjustments you can make to ensure the martini suits your taste buds perfectly. Below are five of the most popular martini variations

Dry Martini

A martini made with only gin, and very little dry vermouth added. Don’t forget one dash Reagan's No. 6 Orange Bitters and a lemon twist, for garnish.

Dirty Martini

Classic gin or vodka martini with a bar spoon or two of olive brine. Gives it a salty, savory kick. Garnish with 3-4 skewered olives.

Vodka Martini

The vodka martini is a recreation of the classic dry martini that uses vodka instead of gin. It's the perfect way to drink a premium vodka.


Rather than employing a lemon twist or olive, like a traditional classic Martini, the Gibson opts for a cocktail onion. While the change is subtle, it's still noticeable.


The Martinez opts for sweet vermouth over dry. In a mixing glass with ice, add equal parts gin and sweet vermouth. Then add a splash of maraschino liqueur and dash of Angostura bitters.

Final Thoughts

Whichever variation of the martini you settle on, it’s such a simple yet delicious cocktail that every gentleman should try.

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