Although martinis are a luxury, who wants to give them up to cut costs? It’s possible to make a cheap martini by using inexpensive vodka or gin. Another option is to use fruit juices instead of liqueurs, unless you can find them reasonably priced.

Vodka or Gin

Historically, the martini is said to be an American invention with gin used as the base, but over time, a new version of the drink, with vodka replacing the gin, became popular as well. One or the other will be needed; deciding which one to use is based on personal preference. There are many pitfalls when using cheap vodka or gin–your martini may taste like rubbing alcohol or pine needles. According to Esquire magazine, Gordon’s London Dry Gin is recommended as the best inexpensive choice. It also advises that any bottle of vodka around the $15 range should be palatable–if you can find it cheaper and it tastes good, use it. The only other ingredient you need is dry vermouth, which is very inexpensive and can usually be found in a grocery store if it has a wine section.

Basic Recipe

For a basic recipe, you need 2 1/2 oz. gin or vodka and 1/2 oz. dry vermouth. You can increase the vodka and gin if you want a dry martini, which means using less vermouth–it is up to your taste buds on this factor. Mix the ingredients together in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass with 6 ice cubes, shake or stir and strain into a chilled glass.

Dirty, Extra Dirty and Hot

The best way to disguise and to improve upon using less expensive vodka or gin is to make the dirty martini. Most people will not even notice you are using cheap liquor. Use the basic recipe but add a 1/2 oz. of olive juice from the olive jar. If you want to get dirtier, add more olive juice to taste. To get an extra dirty drink, put in pieces of one mashed olive or use olives stuffed with garlic or blue cheese. You can add some heat by using a dash of Tabasco sauce or rim the glass lightly with a blend of paprika and a bit of cayenne pepper and salt.

Simple and Fruity

Sometimes liqueurs are not in the budget, but you can try a few substitutions like fruit juice. Make a crantini by adding 2 oz. of cranberry juice to the basic recipe and skip the vermouth if you want, depending on taste. Add 1 tbsp. of lime juice for extra flavor and toss in a couple of cranberries. Create a red passion martini with the basic recipe minus the vermouth; add 2 oz. red grapefruit juice with 1/2 tsp. of very fine sugar. If you are a vodka lover, these fruity recipes can be made even better if you invest in vanilla vodka–there are some reasonably priced varieties out there.