It's time to raise a glass to one of the world's most popular cocktails, as 19 June marks World Martini Day.
The much-loved drink is made by mixing vodka (or gin) with dry white vermouth, ice and added garnishes, such as lemon zest or olives.
The chosen vice of a rather famous fictional secret agent, the classic martini became a staple after James Bond's catchphrase "shaken, not stirred" was first uttered in the 1964 Goldfinger film.
But it's remained popular since then. In 2019, a dry martini was one of the 10 best-selling cocktails in the world, according to top bartenders around the globe.
What's the difference between a dry and wet martini, you may ask? The amount of vermouth you use. The more there is, the "wetter" the drink is, the less there is, the "drier" the drink.
Whether you’re a martini lover or a newbie looking to celebrate a classic, this is everything you need to perfect your own.
You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Bring the bar to you in lockdown thanks to cocktails in a can.
Not just limited to gin and tonics, the RTD (ready to drink) market is expanding rapidly, with the “premiumisation” of the category opening it up to new consumers.
Brands are moving forward, pushing for fresher ingredients and better quality inside those cans; and outside of them, considering values that are becoming increasingly important such as sustainability, transparency and small-batch production.
In our round-up of the best, we recommend the wet martini (Asterley Bros, £44.95). Although it comes in a pouch rather than a tin, it provides 10 servings so we're not complaining, and is a mix of Cabby’s London dry gin, Schofield’s dry vermouth and orange and lavender bitters.
As well as being made with the south London producer’s own English vermouths, 25 per cent of sales from its ready-to-drink cocktails are going to The Drinks Trust, a charity which supports members of the UK’s drinks industry at a time when it’s sorely needed.
Cocktail making kits
Mastering the art of mixing the perfect martini at home can often require a handful of equipment. To avoid having to buy everything separately, pick up a cocktail making kit, that can vary from one-off taster sessions to more substantial investment buys which should last you a long time.
For a classic martini, this Sipsmith cocktail set (Master of Malt, £95) is a must-have. This rather smart set has a full size 70cl bottle of Sipsmith London dry gin which should keep you going a while, as well as a pretty copper-coloured strainer, jigger and bar spoon which will look great on top of your drinks trolley.
The oversized glass is intended for slow stirring with plenty of ice, an essential for making the ultimate martini.
If you like your cocktail to have a caffeine kick, try this espresso martini kit (Mr Black, £35) that comes with Mr Black coffee liqueur, Nespresso compatible eco coffee pods, a shaking jar and recipe card to follow.
There’s enough in the kit to make 10 servings too, enough to see you well past the weekend.
You can also join a community of fellow martini-fans by following Mr Black Spirits' Instagram page, the producers behind Mr Black coffee liqueur.
Every Friday at 4pm, it encourages its followers to create their own coffee-based cocktails at home (hello, espresso martini) and then share their creations on Instagram with the hashtag #mrblackfriday. Recipes are also posted on the page and fans are encouraged to share their own too. Think of it as a virtual get together with fellow coffee cocktail fans.
Vermouth, vodka and gin
The full-bodied aperitif was originally concocted by a Parisian chemist as a way of making quinine more palatable for soldiers in the French Foreign Legion. Now it’s enjoyed in a cocktail mixed with lemonade or bitter lemon.
The traditional mixer for a martini is vodka, and when drinking a good one, you should expect a creamy mouthfeel, a balance of citrus notes and pepper or spice, and a clean, smooth finish (it shouldn’t burn the throat).
A bar cart staple, we found it to be a smooth, crisp and precise vodka which works well in a multitude of cocktails. Quadruple-distilled and made from one particular strain of rye, the hardworking spirit has a creamy mouthfeel and notes of vanilla and white pepper.
Its hexagonal design reflects each of the six botanicals in the recipe – upfront juniper, sweet Spanish orange peel, zingy grapefruit peel, earthy angelica root, spicy coriander and warming cardamom seeds.
Created by Berry Bros & Rudd – (aka, the UK’s oldest wine and spirits merchant), No.3 is quite simply the perfect example of a London dry gin – try it in a dry martini or a classic G&T.
Whether you prefer your martini shaken or stirred, a cocktail shaker is a trusty bar tool for your at-home mixology attempts. Although not every cocktail needs a vigorous shake (the old fashioned likes a good stir, while mojitos prefer a muddle) a wide range, from the classic daiquiri to the more modern picante, simply cannot be made without one.
Made from hardy stainless steel, the ridged exterior makes it easy to hold on to, even when doing your best bartender impression. There’s an internal strainer so no need for additional kit and a recipe leaflet is included to get you started on the classics.
It’s a stylish addition to any kitchen cabinet.
Cocktail recipe books
Mastering the art of mixology needn’t remain the trusted secrets of bartenders. Whether you like your martinis and other cocktails shaken, stirred, boozy or non-alcoholic, there’s plenty of recipe books to help you become a bonafide cocktail connoisseur.
The Modern Cocktail: Innovation + Flavour by Matt Whiley (Amazon, £16.28) is a beautifully-photographed 224-page compendium, in which bartender Matt Whiley – aka the Talented Mr Fox – provides an almost scientific approach, breaking things down to practically DNA-level, looking at everything from flavour profile to the provenance of ingredients.
Recipes are fun and inventive, and there are some curious yet classy takes on classics, including a Monster Munch gibson, which comprises gin, spring onion and a homemade Monster Munch-infused vermouth.
Once made, sip your martinis in style with stylish glassware.
This set of polosa yellow martini glasses (Oliver Bonas, £22), will make the experience a colourful one, and will brighten up your kitchen cabinets when not in use.
They also make the perfect gift for someone who loves martinis and has been missing their usual order in their local bar.
This set of 4 maxim martini glasses (M&S, £15), suits a bigger household, and are a drinkware staple.
Made from crystal glass, they’re machine washable too, which is perfect for when you’ve had one too many and can’t be bothered washing them by hand.