Learn About Martini

MartiniMixing an excellent martini begins with some basic information about gin, vodka, martini glasses, martini shakers and other bar tools.

Vodka or Gin

There is no shortage of disagreement as to which mix of ingredients may properly wear the badge of martini. There is also no shortage of disagreement as to which is the best, vodka or gin. Though it’s all a matter of preference, it is important to know some basic information about both.

Gin is a white spirit that is flavored. The basis of gin flavoring is the juniper berry. Gin distillers take neutral spirit, a mash of fermented grain to re-distill with numbers of botanicals.

Gin is a spirit that needs no aging and can be enjoyed as soon as it is made. Every distiller boasts a proprietary blend of special ingredients to deliver just the right flavor. Among the many ingredients that could be included, one might find lemon, orange peel and bitter almonds in the mix.

Vodka is a distillate that has been cut with water to an approximate 40% alcohol volume. A unique feature of vodka is that it can be crafted from many different grains such as wheat, barley, rye, rice, and even potatoes. Although gin is often defined by its flavoring, vodka is often defined by its lack of flavoring, or purity.

The multitude of flavored vodkas have only recently come into favor and gained chic status. Although popular vodka flavorings run the gamut, you’ll find vanilla, pepper, orange and lemon among the most consumed. In our martini recipe, Gins or vodkas (flavored and not) is your personal preference.

Making a Dry Martini

To create the finest dry martini, you must take care in the ingredients used for the mixing and the presentation.

You begin with the finest of gins: Tanqueray Gin, Tanqueray Malacca or Bombay Sapphire Gins are considered the finest. Quality vermouth is a necessity, such as Noilly Prat Vermouth. The olive is important; it should be served cold and fresh from it’s own container (I have found Los Olivos and Mamouth Olives to be consistently superior).

Last but not least, you must have aged ice. Aged ice is ice that has been in a freezer for a minimum of 48 hours, undisturbed (aged ice is important as it melts at a much slower rate than fresh ice).

Shaked or Stirred

Shaking and stirring do a couple of simple things; they cool the liquids involved, and they introduce a certain amount of water to your mix. This is a critical part of a good martini. Please make sure to always use only clean, clear ice.

Shaking gin is often said to cause "bruising" of the liquor, which intensifies the flavor. Incidentally, there is no bruising when it comes to vodka.

Shaking causes the ice to break up and achieve a greater presence as part of the final product. Shaking can also produce tiny air bubbles which, in turn, make a drink look cloudy and murky, instead of clear. And finally, shaking a drink will distribute the vermouth more evenly than stirring, giving the final product a better flavor and "texture" overall.

Stirring allows a much gentler blending of ingredients in your drink, and it leaves no presence of ice chips in the finished drink. The final product will also retain more clarity but will not be quite as cold as a shaken drink.

The primary benefit of shaking over stirring is simply speed. You’ll be able to cool more martinis by shaking versus stirring. We invite you to try both methods of cooling to determine the best final result.

Martini Shakers

The shaker is essential as one of your bar tools. There are a few basics in choosing a shaker, or in our case–many shakers. Choose glass or stainless steel for the most durability and highest quality. While we do sell a few styles of plastic shakers, we’ve tested them extensively to ensure they won’t add any undesirable flavors to a drink. When we do our martini mixing, we use an array of quality glass and stainless tools.

There are different types of martini shakers:


A Cobbler type Martini shaker includes three pieces: a tumbler, a lid with a built in strainer, and a cap for the lid. The Cobbler is a more traditional style shaker. This style is available with either a glass or metal tumbler but always a metal lid. A metal tumbler will keep your liquid cooler, but a glass tumbler looks ‘oh so swanky.’ The most important consideration when choosing a Cobbler style is that the lid fits tightly on the tumbler.


The Boston shaker is typically associated with a commercial bar. The Boston has two tumblers: one glass and one metal. The glass tumbler will often feature a rubber rim or seal. The glass tumbler fits mouth to mouth with the metal and the whole contraption is shaken. A skilled mixer will accomplish most of the shaking and straining using only one hand. The Boston shaker is often used with a Hawthorn strainer.


While not really a shaker, a pitcher is used in the smooth art of stirring. Martini pitchers come in both glass and metal and in a wild array of shapes and sizes. When entertaining a larger group of guests, a pitcher is a classy way to present your martinis.

Martini Measurement

Most recipes you’ll find are broken into ounces, parts, dashes, splashes, ponies or jiggers. You’ll also find centiliters, milliliters, fingers and drops. With the right bar tools at hand, you’ll be able to begin measuring and mixing like a bartender. Here are some basic measures and their meanings.


A part simply refers to a fraction of the glass that the drink is being served in.


1/6th of a teaspoon or 1/32 of an ounce.


1/8th of an ounce or 1 teaspoon.


A drop is simply a drop.


1 ounce


1 ounce

Martini Temperature

The martini is best when it is very cold. The drink is designed to be drank within a short period of time. After a few minutes, it begins to warm and becomes "stronger" to drink. The above recipe has never failed to please.

Make sure that you are ready for mixing at a moments notice by storing your gin and vodka in the freezer. The martini glasses chilling in your freezer will appreciate the company! Your liquor will take on a syrupy consistency, which is exactly what you want. You will still need to shake or stir with ice; remember that a certain amount of dilution makes a great drink. As a side note, your Vermouth should be stored in a refrigerator, not in the freezer…the Vermouth stands alone.

Martini Mixing

Making the perfect martini is a personal taste, and if it tastes great to you then it is indeed perfect. Good martini mixing is the result of observation and experimentation. We offer some advice:

Freezing. Keep your vodka and gin in the freezer. Chill your glasses and your shaker.

Start with quality ingredients. Good liquor, crisp olives and quality mixers will make excellent martinis.

Use clean, fresh ice. If your tap won’t yield high quality water, purchase ice or make ice with bottled water.

Wash all fruit that you plan to use for twists. No one wants to taste pesticide residue.

Remember, the mixing is an art and should be done with great presentation and the proper tools. This art is deeply etched in the history of martini making. The tools consist of a shaker or pitcher (metal or glass), a strainer, a long handle bar spoon, a plastic or ivory toothpick, a quality napkin and a quality stemware martini glass. Place the gin or vodka and the shaker in the freezer with the ice.

The vermouth should be refrigerated with the olives and kept cold. Once the shaker is very cold, fill half way with the aged ice. Remove the vermouth from the refr
igerator and place one ounce of vermouth in the shaker. Shake well and then strain the vermouth from the shaker and discard. (This will coat the ice with just the right amount of vermouth for a dry martini.) Return the shaker to the freezer. Remove the jar of olives from the refrigerator and place two on a plastic or ivory toothpick. Don’t use wood; it imparts flavor. Set aside. Remove the shaker and gin from the freezer and pour four ounces of gin into the shaker. Shake well for ten seconds and remove the frozen stemmed glass from the freezer and strain the contents of the shaker into the frozen glass. Serve immediately! Place on a napkin, with the olive being set next to the glass, not in the glass.

Martini Glasses

Commonly known as the "martini glass,” is the "Classic Cocktail" glass. The typical martini glass holds 90 milliliters of liquid and is easily recognized by its sharply sloping bowl and long stem.

A modern version of the martini glass is the "Cosmo glass," which is essentially a stemless martini glass with a slightly less slope to the bowl. We use a mix of traditional and modern glasses when entertaining and experimenting.

The martini glass is a very important piece of any barware arsenal. Part of the beauty of a great martini is in its presentation. A martini glass must be glass. A good quality glass will keep your drink nice and chilly. Never use acrylic or plastic glasses.

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