Start to Finish: 10 minutes
Difficulty Level: Beginner
One of the most iconic of cocktails, modern taste generally calls for martinis that are served almost bone-dry. This means with as little vermouth as possible, as the wet and dry classifications refer to the quantity of vermouth used. The more vermouth in the martini, the wetter it is.
The preference for dry martinis started in the 1940s, and a possible reason for this change was a desire for a more potent cocktail — vermouth does not have a high alcohol content. Another possible reason is the relatively low quality of vermouth available in the United States. To be at its best, vermouth is much like white wine; it needs to be used fairly quickly and stored in the refrigerator.
This martini can be made with either gin or vodka, and the recipe is inspired by one from What’s Cooking America.
- 3 ounces Bombay Sapphire gin
- 3 ounces white vermouth
- 1 lemon
Fill 2 martini glasses with ice and water and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, peel off 3 long strips from the lemon, removing only the rind, and as little of the pith as possible.
The white portion just under the rind of a lemon is called the pith. It is naturally bitter, so avoid it unless you want a bitter taste to your drink.
Fill a shaker halfway with ice, then add the gin and vermouth. Stir with a chopstick, spoon or stir stick, blending thoroughly.
Bombay Sapphire is an aromatic gin, so it is best stirred, not shaken. Vodka martinis can be shaken, but aromatic gins need to be stirred, or else your martini could have a rough taste.
Pour out the ice and water from the martini glasses, and rub the interior of both with 1 of the strips of lemon rind.
Using a metal strainer, pour the stirred cocktail into the martini glasses. Twist 1 lemon rind over each drink, spraying the oils from the peel onto the surface of the martini. Drop 1 twist into each glass and serve immediately.
To make this drink with vodka, substitute a high-quality vodka for the gin, and cover the cocktail shaker and shake instead of stirring.
You can use less vermouth, but the classic wet martini is half vodka or gin, half white vermouth. Julia Child preferred a ratio of 5-to-1, vermouth to gin.
Chilling the gin or vodka in the freezer will mean you can use less ice, roughly half. This means the martini will be stronger tasting and less diluted.
Switch up the garnish: Use a cocktail onion instead of a twist. While olives are common for martinis, a twist or an onion is better suited to a wet martini, as the extra vermouth pairs better with lemon or vinegar than it does with the brininess of olives.