Skep's Place


The Martini: An Icon

As far as cocktails go, nothing else has the sheer star power that the martini possesses. Hell, even its look is iconic. Clear beverage in a stemmed, triangular glass, garnished with an olive on a toothpick? You turn that into a pictogram, and it represents every other cocktail.

Although there seems to be, in my opinion, some stigma that martinis are enjoyed by rich snobs, I'm going to let you in on a secret: these things are so goddamn easy to make.

I do have to warn you up front, you cannot cheap out on your booze with this one. I'm not saying you have to go top-shelf (or even second-to-top shelf, really), but with a grand total of two ingredients, every aspect of this drink needs to carry its weight.

a martini next to a turntable


Now that I've scared you off, let's walk through it.

First, you need to pick your base spirit. You have two options here:

  1. Gin
  2. Vodka

Having said that, this choice is a lie. You're going to pick gin, because you're a sensible person who knows what the hell they're doing. You're not going to pick vodka—a liquor built for the sole purpose of having no flavor—to use in a cocktail that only has two ingredients.

(Really, vodka's entire game is "I want to consume this regular-ass beverage, but I also want to get drunk while doing so")

There are quite a lot of different types of gin, and it lacks many of the definitions that clearly delineate other spirits, such as bourbon or tequila. What you're looking for is a London Dry, which is basically capital-G Gin. When you're ever in doubt what kind of gin you should get, pick a London Dry. I personally use Beefeater, but I've also heard good things about Tanqueray.

Ingredient number two is a dry (white) vermouth. I won't claim to know a lot about vermouth; it's a fortified wine, so it pretty much comes in red and white. For brand, I generally go with Martini & Rossi. I mean, it's right there in the name.

The classic martini ratio is equal parts gin and vermouth, but feel absolutely free to play around with this to suit your taste. Going heavier on the gin will make the martini "drier" (as though we haven't used that descriptor enough already), with a greater gin-to-vermouth ratio being directly proportional to how manly you are. I've heard a number of fantastic quotes on how dry a martini should be, which tend to involve the glass being filled entirely with gin, and the vermouth also being present somewhere in the room. These quotes likewise tend to be misattributed to Winston Churchill for some reason.