There’s a lot of lingo that floats around the cocktail culture, and especially the kind of jargon that goes with ordering the 007’s drink of choice: the martini. You can order it shaken, stirred, dirty, perfect, with a twist, wet…and while some of these are pretty intuitive, what do you mean when you ask for your martini to be “dry?” This quick guide is all about how to make a martini dry.
You might think that a “dry” martini could just be a martini glass left empty. Right? But no. Instead, to understand the term we need to consider the bullied ingredient: vermouth. A classic martini is made with two ingredients, gin and vermouth. The exact proportions vary depending on who you ask, how old they are, and on how eager they are to “bid arms farewell.” And after the ratio debate, there are even two standard vermouth styles: dry and sweet. Vermouth is a fortified wine treated with a few extra flavors, and the difference between the dry and the sweet variety is that, well, sweet vermouth is sweeter. A dry martini should be made with dry Vermouth appropriately.
Is a “dry” martini just about the vermouth?
The “dry” isn’t solely a reference to the kind of vermouth being used. “Dry” is also a reference to the amount of vermouth used in the cocktail. We mentioned that it’s the bullied ingredient next to the gin, and we say that because it’s becoming more and more popular to use less and less vermouth in a martini.
In the 1930s, it was customary to use a 3:1 ratio of gin to vermouth. Legend says that Hemingway’s recipe for a martini was to fill a chilled glass with gin and glance at a bottle of vermouth. Noel Coward championed his recipe for the perfect martini, filling a glass with gin and “waving in the general direction of Italy.” Often, to use as little vermouth as possible without just having to call your martini a glass of gin, the glass is merely wet with the vermouth to preserve the essence before pouring the gin on top. This trend towards using less vermouth is also what people mean by the “dry” martini.
Recall that the gin in a martini can be swapped out for vodka, too. James Bond himself preferred his martinis with both vodka and gin. Regardless of what your champion spirit of choice might be, here’s how to make use of your new vocabulary:
How to Make a Dry Martini:
- To make a dry martini, you can take a 5:1 ratio of gin to vermouth.
- Fill your martini glass with ice to chill it beforehand.
- Take 5 parts gin, 1 part vermouth, and plenty of ice into your shaker.
- Martinis can be famously shaken or stirred, too. Shaking will get you a colder martini, but some purists claim that this bruises the vermouth and damages the flavor (and some of us like it rough). Either stir or shake your mixture to bring that temperature down.
- Discard the ice from the glass you’ve been chilling, and strain your gin and vermouth into the glass to leave the ice behind.
To make an even drier martini, repeat all of the steps mentioned before, but don’t add the vermouth into the mix. Instead, before straining the chilled gin into your glass, pour maybe an ounce or less of vermouth into the glass, rotate the glass so that the vermouth coats every part, then discard the vermouth into the glass of your biggest rival. Add your gin to your chilled glass and enjoy.