Martinis are among the most popular of the mixed drinks. Although the origin is debated, martinis became a part of the standard bartending repertoire in the late 19th century.
Traditionally, a martini is made with gin and dry vermouth, and over the years the gin-to-vermouth ratio has moved from near equal parts of each to about 6:1, with more gin than vermouth. This cocktail is typically garnished with a green olive or lemon twist. Often, a dash of olive juice is added to the mix to make a "dirty martini.”
More recently, vodka martinis have become popular. The vodka makes a drier drink than the gin, but with the popularity of the Cosmopolitan, fruity drinks in a martini glass have become the standard perception of a "martini.” Purists will argue that these sweet versions are not martinis, but simply inferior drinks in a martini glass. Perhaps they are not "true” martinis, but their popularity cannot be denied!
Making the perfect traditional martini requires a shaker, ice, a high quality gin, and dry vermouth. Simply fill the shaker halfway full of ice, pour in a capful of vermouth and swirl it around to coat the ice. Pour out the excess vermouth and add 2.5 ounces of gin (a little over ¼ cup) and shake. Use a strainer to pour the mix into a martini glass and add a single olive or twist of lemon peel. Voila! There is your perfect martini.
If that’s a little too dry for you, try some of the following variations for your perfect martini drink.
Gibson: exchange the olive for a cocktail onion
Third degree: add a couple drops of absinthe
Hoffman House: 3:1 ratio of gin to vermouth with 4 dashes of bitters
Vodka martini: follow the traditional martini recipe and exchange the gin for vodka (Dirty Vodka martinis are also great.)
Cosmopolitan: 2 ounces vodka, 1 ounce Cointreau,
1 ounce cranberry juice, and
1 ounce Rose’s lime juice
Sidecar: 1.5 ounces cognac,
.75 ounces Cointreau, .75 ounces lemon juice