Up Your Bar Game: Martinis

5 years ago by in Up Your Bar Game Tagged: , , , , , ,

iStock_000010298238LargeMartinis, they seem so simple, and yet they intimidate even the best of us when we’re first starting out. In this edition of Up Your Game, we’ve collected a few tips and tricks from our favourite bar sources to help ensure you’re serving up this classic cocktail the right way.


Dry Martini – A martini made with dry vermouth.

Sweet Martini – A martini made with sweet vermouth.

Perfect Martini – A martini made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.

Vermouth – A type of fortified wine flavoured with botanicals.


There are a few stories that go with the origins of the martini. The first is that an Italian vermouth maker began marketing the drink under the brand name Martini, which gave the cocktail it’s name in 1863. The second states that the martini we know today is derived from a drink called the Martinez served around the same time at The Occidental Hotel in San Francisco. A third and fourth suggest it comes from the town of Martinez or that the credit is due to a bartender from the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City. And then there’s the Marguerite cocktail predecessor that consisted of Plymouth dry gin and dry vermouth, served with a dash of orange bitters.


Equipment: A bar spoon, a stirring glass, a martini glass, ice, a shot glass or jigger.
Ingredients: 2.5 oz gin or vodka, 1/2 oz sweet or dry vermouth (or 3 barspoons), olive or twist to garnish

*Note: Be sure to ask your guest if they prefer gin or vodka in their martini and if they’d like an olive or an orange twist.


Start with a chilled martini glass, either by first putting it in a fridge or freezer or by filling it with ice to chill while you prepare the cocktail. Next, fill mixing glass with ice, add vermouth and spirit and stir for about 20 seconds. If you are chilling your martini glass with ice, empty this now. Strain martini into martini glass, garnish with olive or twist and serve.

Drink Tip:

Want a fail safe method for mixing a dry martini? Easy. Fill your mixing glass with ice and then wash the ice with dry vermouth, as in slowly pour it over your ice and stir until it’s lightly covered in vermouth. Drain any excess over a sink using a strainer. Add your desired vodka and stir drink as usually.

*This tip comes to us from Dick Bradsell on Difford’s Guide.

Pro Tip: When ordering a martini in France, ensure you stress wanting a gin or vodka martini. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a glass of sweet or dry vermouth made by Martini in front of you, which may not be the flavour experience you’re after.