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How to order a Martini

How To Order A Martini Like A Pro


Ordering a martini is not quite as simple as saying “I’ll take a martini”.  It may have been, once upon a time when everyone knew that a classic martini is gin and vermouth (in a 5 to 1 ratio), stirred with ice cubes, strained and poured into a martini glass with a garnish.  But with all the choices that we have available to us now, one must specify their drink preference.

If someone orders a martini without specification, you will have to ask a series of questions to discover what they would really like to drink.

  1. Vodka or Gin?
  2. What brand do you prefer?  Know what vodka’s and gin’s you offer so you can relay the options to your guest if need be. 
  3. Up or on the rocks?  (With or without ice.)
  4. Olives or a twist?  (For the garnish.)
  5. If they have ordered their martini dirty, the garnish will always be olives unless otherwise specified.

I like to have a martini, two at the very most, three I’m under the table, four I’m under my host. Quote by Dorothy Parker.

A correctly ordered martini would sound something like this: “I would like a Beefeater martini, dry, on the rocks with a twist”.  This perfect order has told us everything we need to know: the alcohol preference (type and producer), the specification of little vermouth, that they would like it with ice and garnished with a twist!

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The (horrible) martini trend is ordering a Martini “dry”. Dry means no vermouth, but I challenge you this: Next time you are feeling courageous, order 2 martini’s: Vodka (quality), up, with a twist, and dry. The other: Vodka (same as other), up, twist, and wet. Taste these martini’s side by side and I bet you a facebook mention that you will like the wet one better. Do it! (Then report back to me.)



A classic Martini recipe calls for 5-6 parts gin or vodka to one part dry vermouth

Dirty:  A martini that has olive juice added to it.  It makes it look dirty and adds a distinct flavor.

Dry:  Just a little vermouth.

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Extra dry/up:  No vermouth.

Gin:  An alcoholic spirit distilled from grain or malt and flavored with juniper berries.

Neat:  Straight from the bottle and put into a glass so it’s nice and tepid.  Not a great order imho. The guest may mean ↑ (up).  (I’d ask just to be sure.)

On the rocks:  The gin/vodka will be served over ice.

Perfect: A martini (or any cocktail) using equal parts dry and sweet vermouth.

Rocks:  Ice.

Stirred, not shaken: The gin/vodka will be chilled by adding it to a glass of ice cubes and stirring it, then straining it into a martini glass rather than the usual way of adding the ice and booze to the glass, covering it and shaking the dickens out of if, straining out the ice and pouring it in a martini glass.

Sweet:  Sweet vermouth, not dry.

Lemon twist

Twist:Garnish the martini with a lemon twist.

Up/straight up:  Gin/vodka chilled with ice (by shaking or stiffing) and straining it into a martini glass leaving no ice, only the chilled alcohol.

Vermouth:  A fortified wine infused with herbs and spices.

Vodka: An alcoholic spirit made from distilled…

  1. rye.  Examples include: Chopin Rye, Platinka Original, Belvedere and many others.
  2. wheat. Examples include: Svedka, Sky 90, Effen, Kettle One, Vox, Three Olives, Reyka and many others.
  3. potatoes. Examples include: Chopin, Monopolowa and many more.

Wet:  Extra vermouth

Are you just wishing that I had made a video about Martini’s?  Lucky you, I did!  Watch it here.


martini infographic

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  1. Actually, it is only a martini if gin is used. If someone orders a vodka martini what they are actually ordering is a Kangaroo. Just because vodka mixed with vermouth have become the culture norm, it does not mean it is actually a martini. Also, a martini should always be served with 3 olives unless it is a Gibson in which case onions are used.

    • Mac, true true. But the fact is that we are in the midst of a time when the general population doesn’t know much on the subject. If someone orders a “Martini” from you, you have to ask clarifying questions to discover what that means to them. If you give everyone gin and vermouth, you’re going to have some confused and pissed off guests. If you discover that they actually want vodka and vermouth, fine, educate them that it is actually called a Kangaroo. The problem there is that when they go to the next bar and order one, the bartender will be reaching for his cell phone to Google “Kangaroo.” But, that’s all part of the process of getting information into the mainstream awareness, right? Thanks for the comment, Mac.

  2. Thanks for the step by step! This is a great post all around, glad you shared it. Dirty martinis are so wonderful, check out this tutorial

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