Cheers to National Martini Day! Here's how to make America's favorite classic cocktail like a pro.

By Betty Gold
Updated: June 21, 2019

Martinis: they’re the perfect example of something 'simple' but not 'easy.' They’re a clean, classic, uncomplicated cocktail, yet they stir up more controversy than almost any other drink. Sometimes these things go hand in hand.

We aren’t even going to touch the gin versus vodka debate—that’s up to your own taste buds to decide. But the olive juice and vermouth are touchy subjects, too. According to a survey from elit Vodka, the briny kick of a dirty martini made with olive juice is preferred by 20% of martini drinkers, martinis on the dryer side with less vermouth are preferred by 19% of martini drinkers and martinis made on the wetter side with more vermouth are preferred by just 10%. And we haven’t even gotten to the whole shaken versus stirred subject yet.

Clearly, customizing a martini to your specific palate is important. If you’ve been drinking them for years, chances are you already know exactly how you like yours. But if you’re new to martini land, welcome! We recommend trying them with a few different ingredients (and ratios) to find what suits you best.

No matter how you mix yours, H. L. Mencken was real woke when he said that “martinis are the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet.” Here are six simple steps to make your own version of the classic cocktail like a pro.

Spring for high quality liquor

Considering that this is a drink that’s essentially 100% alcohol, you’ll want to make sure you’re using spirits from a delicious, dependable distillery. Start with around 4-ounces of gin or vodka and 1-ounce of Vermouth and adjust as necessary. Here are a couple reliable brands we always love:  

Have fresh ice on hand

Always use clean, new ice when mixing a martini. Chipped ice is best, since it cools the drink faster than cubes. Remember that ice from your freezer can become affected by the food around it, so keep that in mind if you’re making at ice home.

Stir—but not for too long

Traditionally you stir spirits as not to “bruise” them. We recommend stirring briskly for about 20 seconds with a long-handled spoon. You can still shake things up if you like a bit of extra dilution and a charged mouthfeel in your martini

Chill your glassware

Always chill your glassware prior to serving your martini, either in the freezer or with ice cubes. Around five to ten minutes of chill time should do it.

Keep your vermouth kickin’

Whether you prefer your martini bone dry (no vermouth), dry (some vermouth) or wet (even more vermouth), make sure to always refrigerate your vermouth once opened. It will spoil quicker if left at room temperature.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your garnish

Olive, Lemon Twist, Onions. These are the classic martini garnishes, but why not try something different? An orange twist, grapefruit twist, spoon of caviar, cucumber slice, or edible flowers are all pretty pairing ideas to top off your glass. If you want to really wow your guests, you can make your own martini olives.

Tips provided with help from Brent Lamberti, elit Vodka Ambassador.

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