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How to Make a Great Martini 5 Ways

Posted by Noah Ward on

In our opinion, the most difficult and intimidating cocktail to make is a really good martini. There is absolutely no place to hide, no sugar to cover any bitterness, no citrus means no acid to get the mouth watering, a truly great Martini is a balancing act. Diluting the spirit just enough, without making a watery, bland drink, while incorporating the perfect amount of vermouth. And it's gotta be cold. As cold as the ice you stirred with.

So we're here to help you make the best martini possible, since you can't really get someone else to make them right now. There are many ways to skin the proverbial martini cat, so many riffs and variations, we're just going to walk you through what we think are most essential, and the ones we really like to drink regularly. We're gonna be using our classic Applewood Gin for all of these, but you should 100% vary your gin choice depending on your style, a good dry martini and a good dirty martini will totally call for different gins, depends if your garnishing with a twist or an olive, we're here just to cover the basics. Let's get started.

the dry martini

The Alpha and Omega when it comes to the martini, an essential to have in the cocktail quiver. First of all, let's clear up any confusion, a dry martini is made with Gin. End of. A dry martini made with vodka is a vodka martini or a "vodkatini". That preface is important. Anyways, these are the building blocks to make your martini absolutely delicious. Start with Good Dry Gin - but you know that already. If you don't have any Applewood handy, Tanqueray and Bombay Sapphire are great ones that you can get everywhere. Our other local favourites are Never Never Triple Juniper, Imperial Measures Ounce Bold, Archie Rose Signature Gin, Patient Wolf Melbourne Gin and Prohibition Gin.

Before you even get started making your gin - chill that glass. Real cold. Either put it in your fridge or freezer, or fill it with ice. Crucial step. Nobody likes a lukewarm martini. Now the most difficult part is nailing the vermouth addition. While you want just a little bit of vermouth, you don't want to wet it too much - it'll then become a Wet Martini, which is fine if you like that, but this is a Dry Martini. The best thing to do is wet the ice, which means just add 15mls of good dry vermouth (Noilly Pratt for everywhere, Madenii or Regal Rogue for local) into your stirring glass filled with plenty of ice, stir until all ice is covered in vermouth, and then drain contents besides ice. 

Now you're ready to add your Gin! Pour your 60ml of gin in and stir - around 15-20 times but taste! Taste as you go, you just want to dilute the spirit, not water it down too far. You can't add gin back to it, so don't over dilute! Once your super happy with it, double strain into your super cold glass and garnish with either an olive as standard or a twist of lemon if you like it citrusy. And that's that. The basic dry martini to absolute perfection. Not all that tricky is it?

the dirty martini

The most common variant of the martini and definitely one of the more delicious, if your a fan of salty, briny and boozy beverages like us. All there is to it is a bit of olive brine from a good quality jar of olives. What you really don't want to do is add too much oil to it, you'll find plenty of olive jars filled with olive oil - very delicious, not in this case. Salinity is key here. And make sure they're green, you definitely don't want proper ripe Kalamata olives anywhere near your martini - not even to eat, eat the green ones! 

As far as making it goes, it's eye of the beholder. Add one bar spoon of brine, maybe two, hell add nine if you really want. But basically it's the exact same process and making your dry martini, just when you add your gin, add your chosen amount of brine in there too. Not for everyone, but if you're into dirty martini's, you're REALLY into them.

the vesper martini

A super famous variant, made famous by that bloody secret agent: Bond. James Bond has a very complicated history when it comes to the martini, as he is known to shake, not stir a vodka martini - which by every measure possible is just a terrible drink. The Vesper Martini is quite a delicious one though, and not a bastardisation of an existing recipe, a grand new creation fitting for the worlds most infamous spy. 

The creation does go against every convention of a martini, but it's greater than the sum of its parts. A blend of 45ml of  Gin to 15ml of Vodka along 15ml of Lillet Blanc and it's the only martini you should shake but not stir - because that's what Ian Fleming's recipe said.

the shady martini

Something of our own creation here, made in a trans-continental collaboration with the legends out at Shady Acres in Hong Kong. Basically a twist on Gibson Martini or a Flame of Love Martini, except we're making it with our collaborative Underdog Gin (a few bottles of this are still available!) and one of our favourite cocktail ingredients around - Fino Sherry. A dry oxidative style of Sherry, that is completely unique and utterly delicious beyond belief.

No wetting of ice and draining here, this is more simple cocktail - not in flavour but in creation. 60ml of Gin to 15ml of good quality Fino, Stirred and double strained. The choice garnish is a bit of mandarin peel if you can get your hands on it, otherwise, a twist of orange will do a bang up job too. 

the olive oil martini

Something of a nouveau classic in the making, the olive oil martini has been popping up on cocktail lists across the country and the world for the last 12 months or so - surprising, but once drunk, very understandable! It's essentially a dry martini made with a splash of olive oil in whatever way you choose, however much you choose! The primary thing to note before diving into this journey is get some damn good olive oil. Not cooking level, salad dressing level. It's gotta be almost drinkable. 

The most common option for incorporating the oil is a garnish, using a pipette to have a few floating orbs adorn the top of the beverage, but you can also add a very small splash into the martini itself just for texture. It'll coat your lips like the best lip gloss ever, but it adds such a gorgeous savoury body that is well worth it. Welcome to a modern classic.

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