The martini is a cocktail made with gin and dry white vermouth. Over the years, the martini has become somewhat of an icon, having been referred to
as the "King of Cocktails". H. L. Mencken once called the martini "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet"; E B White called it "the elixir
of quietude." Nikita Krushchev supposedly called it "America's lethal
weapon". It is also the proverbial drink of the old "three-martini lunch" of business executives, now largely abandoned as part of companies' "fitness
for duty" programs.
While variations are many, a standard modern martini is made by combining approximately two and a half ounces of gin and one half ounce of dry vermouth with ice in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. The ingredients are chilled, either by stirring or shaking, then strained and served "straight up" (without ice) in a chilled cocktail glass, and garnished with either an olive
or a twist (a strip of lemon peel, usually squeezed or twisted to express
volatile citric oils onto the surface of the drink). Capers or cocktail onions
are sometimes used as substitute garnishes. An onion-garnished martini is properly known as a Gibson as it was created by Charles Dana Gibson, a "Life" illustrator famous for his "Gibson Girl" illustrations.
While the standard martini may call for a 5:1 ratio of distilled spirits to wine, many aficionados may reduce the proportion of vermouth drastically. This
gave rise to stories such as martinis being made by just passing the cork
of the vermouth above the glass, along with similar conceits about how little vermouth, i.e., how "dry," one's martinis are.
Another common but controversial variation is the vodka martini, which is prepared in exactly the same way as a standard martini, with vodka being substituted for gin as the base spirit. In the 1990s, the vodka martini supplanted the traditional gin-based martini in popularity. Today, when bar
and restaurant customers order "a martini," they frequently have in mind a
drink made with vodka. Martini purists decry this development: while few object to the drink itself, they strenuously object to it being called "a martini." The martini, they insist, is a gin-based cocktail; this variation should be designated as such, with the name "vodka martini" (it may also be called a "vodkatini" or a "kangaroo").
It was made famous by James Bond in the James Bond movies. His favorite beverage and he is known for asking that it "be shaken, not stirred."
Many more variations exist on the standard martini (standard recipe right hand column, bottom).
The "in-and-out martini" is a very dry gin martini made by pouring a small measure of vermouth into a shaker, shaking it to coat the ice, and then you pour it out and dispose of any remaining vermouth. The standard amount of
gin is then shaken over this vermouth-tinged ice and served normally. This
was the favorite drink of former US President Richard Nixon.
The "perfect martini" is technically one that is made with a mixture of dry and sweet vermouth, although in many bars the term is misused as a
A "Churchill" is made with dry gin, stirred, with an unopened bottle of vermouth waved above the shaker.
An "apple martini "(also sour apple martini or appletini) is a vodka martini with an apple flavoring such as apple schnapps, sometimes with apple, lemon or lime juice, and is often garnished with a slice of Granny Smith apple. Some people call this an "apple cosmopolitan".
A "dirty martini" has some of the brine (at least a teaspoon) from the olive jar added. President Franklin D Roosevelt was partial to a dirty martini. A naked martini is made without ice, but with the ingredients and glass chilled.
A "sweet martini" is made with sweet red vermouth, and may be garnished with a maraschino cherry instead of an olive.
The "sake martini" substitutes a dry, clear sake for the vermouth.
The well known "Gibson" is a standard dry martini that is garnished with cocktail onions used instead of olives. Then the "tequila martini" substitutes tequila for gin.
An "akvavit martini" substitutes alavit for gin.
A "gin salad" is made like the ordinary martini but with three olives and two cocktail onions as garnish. "Gin salad" is also the term used to describe any traditional martini that has an excess of garnish vegetables in it.
A "Dickens martini" is the traditional martini, alebeit one without any garnish.
There are literally thousands of additional variants. Sometimes the term "martini" is used to refer to other mostly-hard-liquor cocktails such as Manhattans, Cosmopolitans, and ad-hoc or local concoctions whose only commonality with the drink is the cocktail glass in which they are served.
Chefs with a more whimsical bent are even producing dessert "martinis"
which are not a drink at all, but are merely served in martini glasses.