The Perfect Martini Recipe Guide

The Perfect Martini Recipe Guide

The Martini has a long and coloured history. It's synonymous with class and style, famously enjoyed by everyone from 007 to Sinatra, Hemingway to Winston Churchill. It's iconic, luxurious, and never fails to hit the spot.

We first see the Martini pop up in the form of a cocktail called the Martinez, made popular in the late 1800's - which gradually evolved into the drink we know and love today. During the prohibition of the 1920's, it became a clandestine symbol of rebellion, enjoyed in dark  corners of speakeasies across America and outside the bounds of the law. 

Today I'm going to take you through our ultimate guide for the perfect Martini. This isn't a recipe, so much as it's an exploration - because as you'll find out, a Martini isn't about the cocktail so much as the person who enjoys it.

By the end, you'll know every detail: the subtle techniques to perfect your own Martinis; the finest liquors and how to treat them; and not least the answer to the famous debate - shaken or stirred?

This is the only guide to Martini's you'll ever need to read.  

Making a Classic Martini

We need to begin by understanding that the Martini is highly customisable - it requires a healthy amount of experimentation to find your preference.

The following recipe is the equivalent of starting at the beginning. It is from the famed 1920's guide, Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails, by Harry McElhone - around the time the Martini had reached a popular, unified form that we might recognise today.


  • 2/3 Gin
  • 1/3 French Vermouth
  • Orange or Angostora added if required

OK - Harry's ABC isn't verbose about how to make a Martini - in fact, the above information is all you get. However, we'll add some detail for you with the Suave & Debonair approved recipe for Harry's Martini. We've added a piece of lemon peel into the mix and done away with the orange or Angostora.

A picture of the perfect martini recipe


  1. Chill a martini glass. This can be achieved by filling with crushed ice and cold water, or popping it in the freezer. A chilled glass is a dealbreaker.
  2. Take 2oz of dry gin - we recommend Boodles British Dry Gin, or Sipsmith London Dry Gin if you need help choosing. Add to a cocktail shaker.
  3. Add 1oz of vermouth to the shaker - invest in a bottle of Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambery, a dry French vermouth based on Ugni-Blanc sweet wine.
  4. Add a handful of cubed ice - six or seven cubes. Stir for 40 seconds to a minute, until the liquid mixture is icy cold.
  5. Strain into your empty, chilled Martini glass. Twist your lemon peel above to release a light mist of citrusy oils, before using it as garnish on the side of the glass.

Serve immediately - and enjoy!

A Few Clarifying Notes

  • I know we've said it, but I can't overstate this enough - chilling your martini is absolutely imperative! A martini should always be as chilled as possible.
  • That said, we have heard of bartenders storing gin in the freezer before making a Martini. This isn't strictly necessary. As you stir your Martini with ice, some of it will melt - and this ice water is a hidden but important ingredient to tie it all together.
  • Yes - you can garnish with an olive instead. In fact, it's encouraged - particularly for a Dirty Martini, which we'll come to below.

We've made it this far, but by now you're aware that the Martini isn't a one-size-fits-all situation. Perhaps more so than other cocktails, people are choosy about their Martini's.

Wet or dry? Shaken or stirred? On the rocks, or straight up?

Below, we'll give you our guide to customising your Martini - because it's always best to order it exactly how you like it.

Dry Martini Recipe

Over the course of the 1900's, the amount of vemouth one might include in a Martini gradually dropped. A Dry Martini is one where the ratio of gin to vermouth is increased from the 2:1 mentioned in the classic version of the cocktail above.

By the 1930's, the ratio of gin to vermouth was closer to 3:1. In the 1940's, it became 4:1, and since then, 5:1 or 6:1 has become the norm. Order a dry martini these days and you can expect 0.5oz of vermouth, with 2.5oz - 3oz of gin.

Churchill Martini Recipe

Drier variations of the Martini continued to appear, with ratios of 8:1 or 12:1 in favour of gin. One suggested ratio of 15:1 takes the tongue in cheek name of The Montgomery, named for the British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, who supposedly only attacked when he had a vastly superior number of troops.

The most extreme, though, is the Churchill Martini - named after the British Prime Minister who liked his martinis so dry that he quipped, "I would like to observe the vermouth from across the room while I drink my Martini."

For a superbly dry Martini, one might ask the bartender to rinse the inside of the glass with a little vermouth before discarding it. Or, maybe it is enough to simply ask the bartender to take a quick glance at the vermouth bottle from across the bar…

Perfect Martini Recipe

Named not because we think it is perfect, but after the perfect 1:1 ratio of gin to vermouth - this variant will typically contain 1.5oz of both gin and vermouth. If you are to entertain it (which you should, whilst figuring out what you like) we can't stress enough that a high quality vermouth like Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambery be used.

This will take your martini to different heights - unlike the almost untouched bottle that has been in the back of your spirit cupboard for the past few years.

Wet Martini Recipe

If a dry martini favours more gin, it comes as no surprise that a wet martini favours vermouth. These days, though, a wet martini is likely to follow the classic martini recipe that we list above, with a 2:1 ratio of gin to vermouth.

A Perfect Martini, shown above, would almost certainly be considered a very wet martini, and for those who wish to tip the balance even further, an upside down or reverse martini has more vermouth than gin.

Dirty Martini Recipe

Some time in the 20th century, an unruly bartender added not only olives to garnish but also a splash of olive juice - giving a fresh, yet briny and savoury flavour.

A certain amount of experimentation is required, but I enjoy mine like so:

  • 2.5oz dry gin
  • 0.5oz vermouth
  • 0.5oz olive brine

The olive brine should be added to the cocktail shaker alongside the gin, vermouth and ice, before being subjected to a hearty 40 second stir.

Garnish, of course, should be a cocktail stick with three olives - and we'd ideally recommend investing in Jack Rudy Cocktail Co Vermouth Marinated Green Pitted Olives, especially for the occasion. Place them into the drink, rather than on the side of the glass.

A perfect dirty martini

Vodka Martini Recipe

For me, a vodka martini (whereby the gin is replaced in favour of vodka) is a winner. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I prefer it to a gin Martini - but that's just my preference.

For shop-bought vodka, you can do much worse than Grey Goose, but to really elevate your vodka martini I'd recommend investing in either Belvedere Single Estate Rye Smogóry Forest (a smooth, rich and full-bodied choice) or Chopin Vodka (for a creamier, more refined finish).

How Should You Garnish a Martini?

Like the ingredients and the recipe, there are many options for the garnish of your martini. Remember though, that this isn't a Bloody Mary, and you don't need to add every garnish under the sun. Here are our recommendations:

Lemon Peel Twist
A classic, which you will most likely find in your favourite cocktail bar. A twist of lemon peel with the pith removed brightens the spirit in your martini and compliments the sweetness of the vermouth. A quick squeeze above your martini releases a mist of citrus oil, and for an extra citrus hit you can rub it around the rim of the glass.

Olive garnish
If you opt for an olive garnish (as you certainly should for a dirty martini) then a green, unstuffed olive is a perfect salty compliment for a fresh and zingy martini. Garnishing with two olives is considered bad luck - so choose either one or three, according to preference.

Experimental Garnishes
Once you've mastered the martini, you might wish to experiment. Orange peel is a sweeter option and grapefruit peel can also be considered - both may enhance the botanicals of certain gins. Add a pickled onion to transform your cocktail into a Gibson (essentially the only difference), or even an oyster with it's brine alongside your dirty martini. That's luxury!

Should you Shake a Martini or Stir it?

The million dollar question. Shaken, not stirred, is how Bond (James Bond) famously requested his martini on screen for the first time in 1962's Dr. No, and we're sure that fans have been following in his image ever since.

Again, it's personal preference - however, we always take ours stirred.

Sure - shaking a martini chills the drink more thoroughly, if you're in a rush. But when you order a martini, that's rarely the case. It also introduces more air into the mixture, for a frothier finish, and dilutes the mixture slightly more than stirring.

Some people enjoy this frothier alternative, which also comes with a slightly cloudier finish. But for me, the martini should be smooth, chilled, still and refined. And never rushed. Sorry Bond - but we'll take ours stirred.

James Bond Making a Martini

Closing Thoughts on the Perfect Martini Recipe

Congratulations on making it this far. There's no standard for the perfect martini, except the standard that you set yourself.

We'll summarise with a quick recap of your challenge - should you wish to accept it.

  1. Experiment with ingredients. Find the gin, vodka and vermouth that work for you. In this article, we've recommended Boodles British Dry Gin, Sipsmith London Dry Gin, Belvedere Single Estate Rye Smogóry Forest, Chopin Vodka and Dolin Vermouth - but there are countless options to experiment with.
  2. Set your preferences. We won't judge you if you prefer it shaken. And we certainly won't judge you if you prefer it dirty. Push the boundaries and make it your own. Just remember - two olives is bad luck!
  3. Enjoy the journey. Great cocktails are rarely if never universal, and the adventure of finding a martini that suits you is surely as satisfying as the drink itself.
  4. And if you take nothing else away from this article, remember: it has to be chilled. Ice cold!

If you've read this far, you might like our article The Martini Vs. The Margarita - Which Comes Out On Top?


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