The martini is said to have originated in the 1860s, and a number of recipes have evolved over the years. A mixture of gin and vermouth is the usual base, but replacing gin with vodka is a favorite variation. Vermouth can be red or white, and the cocktail is stirred with ice. Martini has long been marketed as the drink of choice for sophisticated people.
The classic martini contains gin and vermouth with the usual ratio of 4 parts gin to 1 part vermouth. The two are mixed with ice and should be strained so that no ice is left in the drink and is then garnished with an olive or a lemon peel. Red vermouth is sweeter, while white vermouth is less sweet. Either can be used according to preference, and reducing the amount of vermouth makes the cocktail drier.
The vodka martini is a well-known variation on the classic martini, as popularized by the James Bond character in Ian Fleming's novels. Vodka replaces the gin, using 4 parts vodka to 1 part vermouth. Otherwise, the same recipe is followed, and the same garnish is used as the classic.
A variety of recipes are used for champagne martinis. The basic recipe consists of 2 parts champagne to 1 part Cointreau orange liqueur. Prepare the martini glass by first putting some water and a few ice cubes in it and then placing it in the freezer. Use a shaker to combine the ingredients and add to the chilled glass. Garnish with fresh raspberries. Variations include using champagne with vodka and the possible addition of an orange-flavored liqueur and pomegranate juice. Another variation uses a mix of champagne, dry vermouth, vodka and maraschino liqueur.
Some people claim that the Martinez martini is the original concept behind the martini cocktail enjoyed today. It contains gin, sweet vermouth, angostura bitters and maraschino cherries. Equal amounts of gin and vermouth are used. The recipe is designed to blend opposing sweet and bitter flavors, and the traditional garnish is a twist of lemon. Sometimes it is made with the more popular dry vermouth. If sweet vermouth is included, it gives the Martinez an auburn color.
The Gibson uses either gin or vodka and features a pickled cocktail onion as a garnish. Depending on your preferred taste, 6 to 8 parts of gin or vodka are used to 1 part dry vermouth. It is said to be invented by the artist, Charles Dana Gibson, who preferred his cocktails with pickled onions.