When You Want Something Like A Martini
Updated: Feb 18
One of my favorite interactions with a customer was when a gentleman ordered a martini and handed me his card. On the back was a little picture of a martini glass and a couple words; “Six parts Gin, One Part Dry Vermouth, One Dash Olive Brine, Garnish 2 Olives.”
THANK YOU! Everyone has their own preferred order for a martini. Dry, wet, olives, onions, shaken, stirred, bottle of vermouth waved over top (cap firmly on).
If you want a martini, you know what you want. No amount of me pleading to use more vermouth or orange bitters or stirring will change your mind, nor does my opinion of how you enjoy a martini matters. I’m just here to give you a couple options of some classic cocktails that are a bit different to look cool but similar enough you won’t hate to gulp one or two down.
This is an industry drink. Bartenders order it in masse, maybe because it’s a little less sharp on the booze, maybe because bartenders love vermouth, maybe it’s fun to order in numbers. 50/50 refers to half gin and half dry vermouth. It’s often dashed with orange bitters,
ruining the ratio in name only. The bright citrus burst it lends works well for me.
I have a soft spot for this drink because it shares a name with a St. Paul, MN music venue slash dive bar that began it’s life as a boot scootin' boogie joint in the 1940s. This recipe from Harry Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual in 1882, this martini will make you scoot at least a boot. Its similar to a 50/50 Martini with an added dash of Maraschino liqueur, a marasca cherry distillate mellowed in wooden vats then mixed with sugar and water to bring the alcohol content down and sweeten the spirit. Its a love it or hate it liqueur, the haters usually have some grudge brought down from years past (I myself have recently gotten over my hate of Dimmi to now love it, a story for another day). Its a great bottle to get, especially if you can find a 375 ml of it. If you hate it in drink, you can give it to a friend or use it in cooking.
And find a small bottle of absinthe to have at home. It’s the perfect small shot before going out and very versatile for home cocktail use.
1.5 oz Gin
1.5 oz Dry Vermouth
0.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
Dash Orange Bitters
Stir With Ice until cold, strain into a martini/coupe/nic and nora glass (chilled please), Lemon twist garnish with lemon oil expressed over top.
Note: Most modern takes use three times the amount of Gin than Dry Vermouth. Its fine, but you can’t beat the classic.
Its a Turf Club with Blanc Vermouth instead of Dry Vermouth. A touch more sweet. While this is more well know by bartenders who don’t want to learn two different recipes, why not try the original Tuxedo instead?
2 oz Gin
1 oz Fino Sheryy
Dash Orange bitters
Stirred with ice, strain into a coupe, garnished with an expressed orange peel.
The Tuxedo cocktail has a clean juniper flavor that is extended because of the dryness of the fino sherry.
The Chicago Martini
As a new resident of Chicago, re-introducing this drink to Chicago is my new goal. The Chicago Martini was born in 1951 when liquor dealer Otis & Lee held a contest for riffs of a standard Martini. The winner was a simple variation with gin, a dash of dry vermouth, a rinse of Cointreau in the glass, and garnished with anchovy stuffed olive.
I like to get the ice wet with dry vermouth, rinse the glass with Cointreau, then pour the excess of each into a pony glass to be served on the side. That way, the drinker can add a dash if they find the martini too dry or can be sipped on the side.
If you have any martini questions or specs you like, comment below!
Photos by Francis Miller for Life Magazine. Shot in November 1951 at the La Salle Hotel in Chicago during the martini contest. Read the Life Magazine Article "Martini Hersey" by clicking here.