What Makes a Martini Extra Dry?

By Nicholas DeMarino

The martini is one of the most sophisticated and classic cocktails; even the conical, stemmed glass it's served in is iconic. The drink is composed of gin and dry vermouth at a 2:1 ratio, and usually a green olive or lemon-peel twist for garnish.

What Makes a Martini Extra Dry?
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What Makes a Martini Extra Dry?

History

The martini has a long history obscured by legend and myth. Although its exact origins are unknown, many attribute the drink to Jerry Thomas, a bartender who published the recipe in the 1887 edition of his influential book, The Bartender's Guide. The martini is largely cited as an American drink, although several theories place its origin in Europe.

The origins of dry martinis are even less clear. The term is usually used to order a martini with only a few drops of vermouth. An extra-dry martini is a hyperbolic expression usually used to order a martini without any vermouth.

Recipe

The common martini recipe goes like this:

  1. Pour 2 ounces of gin and about 1 ounce of dry vermouth into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes.
  2. Stir for 30 seconds.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Add a dash of orange or Angostura bitters if desired, and garnish with one green olive or a lemon-peel twist.

There are quite a few variations, too.

  • Perfect martini: Equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.
  • 50/50: Equal parts gin and vermouth.
  • Vodka martini: Vodka in lieu of gin.
  • Dirty martini: With olive brine.
  • Gibson: With a cocktail onion garnish.

Extra Dry

Again, a dry martini has very little vermouth, and an extra-dry martini—also described as bone dry or desert martini—usually has no vermouth. When making an extra-dry martini, some bartenders leave the cap on the vermouth and symbolically pour it over the drink.

Misconceptions

Many purists believe a true martini has a 2:1 ratio of gin to dry vermouth and can only be garnished with an olive. Some prefer their martinis shaken, not stirred, to avoid bruising the gin—an aerating process that some believe sharpens the taste. Many traditionalists look down on substituting vodka for gin in martinis; but hey, if it worked for James Bond …

Popular Culture

Besides 007, some of the most famous martini drinkers were Ernest Hemingway and Winston Churchill.