Making the Perfect Martini

Perfect Martini
The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail

In cocktail terms, the word "perfect" typically means that the drink will include equal parts of both dry and sweet vermouth. That's exactly what you get in the perfect martini and it's a fabulous drink for anyone who loves gin.

This recipe is the "perfect" version of the classic gin martini. You can also mix up a perfect Manhattan, while other "perfect" cocktails go by other names such as the affinity, which features scotch. And yet, the perfect martini made with gin is the most popular of them all. It's an ideal drink for dinner or anytime you want to celebrate that perfect pairing of gin and vermouth.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Garnish: olives or lemon twist

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for a Perfect Martini
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios.
  2. In a mixing glass filled with ice cubes, pour the gin and both vermouths.

    Mixing a Perfect Martini
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  3. Stir well for at least 30 seconds.

    Stirring a Perfect Martini
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

    Straining a Perfect Martini
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios
  5. Garnish with a skewer of olives or a lemon twist. Serve and enjoy.

    Perfect Martini
    The Spruce Eats / S&C Design Studios

Tips

  • It's customary to garnish with an odd number of olives: one large or three small. Bartenders used to say that an even number is bad luck though three skewered olives let you enjoy one at a time as you drink, finishing up just before the last sip.
  • With just three ingredients, it's important that you pay attention to quality if you want the best cocktail. A drink like this deserves premium gin and vermouth.
  • This is the perfect drink to use when exploring different styles and brands of gin. London dry gin is a popular choice that offers the full flavor of the spirit's botanicals. There are several softer gins available if you prefer something with less focus on juniper's "pine" flavor. Also, look for craft gin brands because there are many that rival the biggest brands in quality and taste.

What's the Best Vermouth for a Martini?

Just as important as your gin, the bottles of vermouth that you choose can enhance your perfect martini. It's tempting to discount the fortified wines and pick up inexpensive bottles, but there are some great vermouths worthy of any bar. Look for bottles such as Carpano, Cinzano, Noilly Prat, and Vya. Don't be afraid to explore unknown names because there are many smaller producers making some very impressive options. No matter which you choose, write the date you open it on the label. Vermouth has a shelf life of just 3 months, after which it will lose flavor and should be replaced.

Is it Best to Shake or Stir a Martini?

Martinis always bring up the shaken or stirred debate and most drinkers have an opinion of which method is best. Stirring gently marries the ingredients' flavors with subtle dilution while the extra dilution of shaking relaxes the flavor and adds air. The general "rule" is to stir cocktails that are comprised only of liquor, saving the shake for those with nonalcoholic mixers, such as the cosmopolitan. However, as with most things in the bar, it's a matter of personal preference. The point is to create your ideal perfect martini because you're drinking it. Give both mixing methods a try and see which you prefer. Also, there may be some gins you like shaken or times when you're in the mood for a stirred martini. Be open and flexible, but most of all, have fun with the experience!

Recipe Variations

  • If you prefer vodka martinis, skip the gin and pour vodka in the perfect martini instead.
  • Try the "perfect" version with other spirits, too. Both whiskey and brandy are popular foundations, though the right rum can make an interesting perfect Jean Harlow cocktail, and an aged tequila will work in a perfect tequini.
  • Switch to a cocktail onion garnish for a perfect Gibson.

How Strong Is the Perfect Martini?

They may look all neat and fancy, but martinis are not weak drinks because they're made entirely of alcohol. With an 80-proof gin, you can expect the perfect martini to weigh in around 27 percent ABV (54 proof). After the second round, you'll have topped the alcohol in a straight shot of tequila.