Martini recipes are everywhere, and they come in a variety of flavors. Yet, it's important to remember that there is the martini, and then there are martinis. Quite often, the latter has little or no resemblance to the original other than the serving glass.
The classic gin martini will always remain a favorite for many drinkers. It was the love for this drink (and its equally timeless cousins like the Manhattan) that spurred an entire movement—a separate martini culture within the broader cocktail scene. The martini has evolved into a style of drink: Fancy, short drinks served in cocktail glasses that are often strong. Modern martini menus are filled with almost every flavor imaginable—from apples to chocolate and coffee to spices—and they're a lot of fun to explore.
Watch Now: Two Ways to Make a Perfect Martini
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There's no better way to kick off a martini recipe collection than with the martini. Made of gin and dry vermouth with an optional dash of bitters, the gin martini has an iconic taste marked with a dry botanical flavor profile. There is much debate among connoisseurs about the ratio, style of gin (or vodka), and garnish that is the best. And yet, most will agree that it is one of the best cocktails ever created.
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According to cocktail history, the Martinez was most likely created before the martini. First printed in the 1887 edition of "The Bon Vivant's Companion: Or How to Mix Drinks" by "Professor" Jerry Thomas, this is a very old drink recipe. It has a gin base but is slightly sweeter than the martini, thanks to the combination of sweet vermouth and maraschino liqueur. Add aromatic bitters and a lemon twist, and you're ready to enjoy this enduring tipple.
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Whiskey's answer to the martini, the Manhattan is equally simple, satisfying, and versatile (with nearly as many variations created over the years). Rather than dry vermouth, this recipe prefers sweet vermouth. You can make it with any style of whiskey you like. Rye whiskey is the classic choice, while Canadian and bourbon whiskeys were more common during the mid-20th century.
Only Fresh Vermouth
Vermouth is a key ingredient in many martinis. The fortified wines are essential for any well-stocked bar, though it doesn't have the shelf life of the liquors that surround it. Once open, it's best to store vermouth in the fridge and use it within three months. If you don't pour it often, write a "best by" date on the label so you avoid stale vermouth.
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Clean and crisp, the vodka martini is a 20th-century classic. Originally, it went by "kangaroo," but that name didn't last long. It's really nothing more than a martini that replaces the gin with vodka, though it's less aromatic, and that appeals to many drinkers. The same options as to how dry to make it and whether to include a lemon twist or olive garnish apply. If you prefer to shake rather than stir, it's also the better choice of the two cocktails.Continue to 5 of 30 below.
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There's a special vocabulary in the martini world: Ironically, "dry" means less dry vermouth, and "perfect" means the drink includes equal parts of dry and sweet vermouth. The perfect martini is the gin-based version of this, though you can also make a perfect vodka martini or perfect Manhattan with whiskey.
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The affinity cocktail is one of several classic recipes that use the double vermouth pairing without the "perfect" moniker. In the Manhattan family, it specifically calls for Scotch whisky and orange bitters. Like its dry vermouth-only companion, the Rob Roy, the affinity is best with either a blended scotch or one of the mellower single malts. Avoid whiskies that are heavily peated or very smoky to maintain a balanced drink.
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When you hear someone talk about a "dirty" martini, it's time to break out the olives. Featuring dry vermouth, you can make it with gin or vodka, and it even works with tequila. Use the brine from the olive jar, make your own, or pick up one of the olive juice options specifically designed for this cocktail. The options are numerous, and it's a fantastic savory cocktail any way you make it.
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Rum has a place in the martini world, too! The Jean Harlow cocktail is, essentially, a rum Manhattan. It follows the "keep-it-simple" theory common in classic drinks by combining rum and sweet vermouth. Light rum is the traditional choice, though a really nice aged rum makes a great alternative.Continue to 9 of 30 below.
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The variety in tequila styles ensures that there's a martini for everyone's taste. On the drier side, the tequini uses dry vermouth, and an unaged blanco tequila is preferred. For more of a Manhattan-style cocktail, switch to an aged reposado or añejo tequila and sweet vermouth, and you'll have a Spanish Harlem.
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In the classic cocktail scene, brandy was king. It's lost some of its appeal among modern drinkers, though the old-fashioned cocktails continue to impress. One can't-miss mix is the chrysanthemum. It pairs brandy and dry vermouth with a hint of absinthe for a delightful kick that only the anise-flavored spirit can provide. For whiskey drinkers, the Waldorf cocktail uses an absinthe rinse with a combination of rye whiskey and sweet vermouth.
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Many classic drinks let fortified wines take center stage and skip the hard liquor. One gem from the late 1800s is the bamboo cocktail. This martini uses equal parts of dry vermouth and sherry. It accents the due with aromatic and orange bitters, a spritz of lemon essence, and an olive garnish to create the ultimate apéritif.
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Vermouth is the typical modifier in martinis, but it's not the only option. In the saketini, it's replaced with sake, and the drink can be made with either gin or vodka. With the variety of gin, vodka, and sake styles available, this cocktail offers endless pairing opportunities. Each combination will have a subtle uniqueness, and most are best with a cucumber garnish.Continue to 13 of 30 below.
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When transitioning from dry to fruity martinis, one cocktail reigns supreme. The cosmopolitan is an icon of the modern martini bar, mixing vodka (often citrus) and Cointreau with lime and cranberry juices. While it has a reputation for being sweet, if you back off the cranberry a bit, it's actually pleasantly dry.
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Fruit martinis are nothing new. Before Prohibition, fruit juices made their way into many martini variations. One that will never go out of style is the Bronx cocktail. This classic is a perfect gin martini with a good dose of orange juice. That citrus kick lightens up the drink considerably and makes it a great candidate for brunch.
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Though the ingredient lists tend to remain short, gin martinis can have a complex flavor. The Park Avenue cocktail is a four-ingredient recipe from the 1940s that combines gin and sweet vermouth with orange curaçao and pineapple juice. The taste is bright, refreshing, and a spectacular twist for summer affairs.
While you may be able to save a little money on tall drinks with lots of juice and soda, martinis deserve the best of your bar. For these cocktails, use top-shelf distilled spirits, fresh mixers, and clean ice to create the best-tasting drinks.
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The Algonquin cocktail is an intriguing drink created sometime around Prohibition. It brings together an unlikely trio. It has a spicy background from the rye whiskey, the aromatics of dry vermouth, and the pineapple juice gives it an unforgettable tropical touch. Thanks to the resurgence in rye whiskeys over the last few decades, the drink is better than it has been in a long time.Continue to 17 of 30 below.
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Sloe gin is the star of the San Francisco cocktail, though it gets equal billing with both styles of vermouth. The sweet sloe berry-flavored liqueur is a fantastic alternative foundation for the perfect martini. Created sometime around the '30s (possibly in the U.K., where sloe gin is most popular), it's easy to mix up and excellent before or after dinner.
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To make the beautiful aviation cocktail, you will need to find a very specific liqueur. Créme de violette is the key ingredient, and this is one of the few cocktails that use it. The sweet, floral taste is an ideal accent to gin, maraschino liqueur, and lemon juice, and the liqueur gives the aviation its stunning purple color.
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A number of sour drinks are classified with martinis because they appear so often on modern cocktail menus alongside their drier counterparts. Among the "up" drinks that are a must for gin lovers is the gimlet. It simply combines gin and lime cordial—a sweetened lime juice—to create a snappy cocktail.
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If vodka is your preference, mix it with lime and triple sec to create the kamikaze cocktail. A staple on today's cocktail menus, it's said to have been invented sometime after World War II, though it really found fame in discos during the '70s. No matter its origins, it is a fun drink that's easy to mix up and best with fresh-squeezed lime juice.Continue to 21 of 30 below.
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Sweeping back to Prohibition and switching to lemon juice, this cocktail really is the bee's knees. Using honey syrup as a sweetener, it's thought that the sweet-sour drink was created to mask the aroma and taste of "bathtub" gin that was common during the speakeasy days. While there's no need to disguise today's array of fantastic gins, the recipe remains a hit.
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The sweet-sour style is also found in a modern classic. The lemon drop martini was devised in the 1970s and is so popular that countless bottled versions are available. And yet, there's nothing quite like a freshly made lemon drop, and it's so easy. All you need is a top-shelf vodka, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup; add the sugary rim if you like.
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Apple martinis come in many varieties and colors. You can have a bright green vodka apple martini, a drier appletini that skips the schnapps, or one that's kissed with butterscotch or spiced with cider. There's also the Washington apple. This Canadian whisky-based cocktail mixes sour apple schnapps and cranberry juice. After one taste, you'll know why it remains a favorite.
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Essential in the martini world, the French martini is a fruity delight. The uncomplicated mix of vodka, black raspberry liqueur, and pineapple juice has a sweet-tart tropical taste that is irresistible. It's also one of the cocktails that propelled the French liqueur, Chambord, to its legendary status in the bar.Continue to 25 of 30 below.
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As the contemporary cocktail scene surged, new liqueurs were released, and many became instant hits. With them came new martinis, including this delicious pomegranate martini after Pama's 2006 debut. To make it, simply grab your favorite vodka and orange liqueur, shake the trio up, and enjoy!
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How many ways can you make a chocolate martini? There are simply too many to count. Some are creamy and indulgent, a few add a hint of citrus or spice, and some pair chocolate with mint or coffee. This chocolate martini recipe keeps it simple with vodka and crème de cacao. The liqueur is sweet—not creamy—and the drink is perfect for any occasion.
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It should be no surprise that the coffee house taste eventually made its way into the bar. Both types of establishments specialize in crafting great drinks, and the espresso martini is just one result of this cross-beverage affair. To ensure it's not one-dimensional, this vodka martini tosses mocha touch into the recipe, pairing crème de cacao with vodka, coffee liqueur, and chilled espresso.
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This coconut martini is the perfect drink when you're in the mood for a tropical cocktail. With a base of vanilla vodka and coconut rum, the recipe adds a splash of pineapple juice with the cream of coconut for a piña colada-like taste.Continue to 29 of 30 below.
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Absolutely fascinating, the Massey cocktail is a newer creation filled with classic style. The recipe adds Irish whiskey to the combination of gin and sweet vermouth, though things get really interesting when you add Green Chartreuse and Campari to the mix. It is a wonderful dinner drink and an exciting opportunity to do something unusual with Irish whiskey.
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Martinis are not immune to hot and spicy drinks. While some add chile peppers, a few go an entirely different route with wasabi. The green horseradish paste is a great cocktail ingredient, especially when mixed with a cooling flavor like cucumber. The duo shine in this cucumber wasabi martini. It uses gin (vodka is great, too) and balances the flavor with syrup and lemon juice.