August 21, 2022 1:34 am

Shane Ridley


The Martini is one of the most popular gin cocktails.  It is refreshing, timeless and looks so very stylish in that beautifully shaped martini glass. It’s the perfect pre-dinner drink, or classy party starter.

But there seems to be so many different yet subtle variations on a Martini. How do you know which one to choose and why?  What is it that makes a Dry Martini dry and why would you want it that way? And then there is the Dirty Martini?  What is that and what makes it dirty?  If you are a little lost on the variations of this classic cocktail, then read on as we guide you through what makes up the different styles of a Martini.

Whether you are a newbie to the wonderful world of the Martini, or you have sipped a few in your time, we are here to help you learn just that little more about this cocktail so you can order exactly what you feel like every time.


The effortlessly cool order is the most recognisable amongst today’s drinkers, but what goes into making a ‘dry Martini’? Firstly, the word ‘dry’ means that very little vermouth has been poured into the cocktail and therefore the gin is the primary focus. The typical ratio of a Dry Martini is 6 parts gin to 1 part vermouth. However, order ‘extra dry’ and you’ll get the slightest splash of vermouth, or even just a glass-coating wash.


It will come as no surprise that the opposite of a Dry Martini is a Wet Martini. ‘Wet’ simply means that there’s a higher percentage of vermouth with a typical ratio being 3 parts gin to 1 part vermouth.


When ordering a Perfect Martini, it doesn’t mean it is perfectly made although a good Martini is always well made.  What it actually means is that it is made with 1 part dry vermouth and 1 part sweet vermouth (usually rosso).


For those who like their cocktails to have a savoury edge, the Dirty Martini is a delicious, slightly salty choice. The term ‘dirty’ means that olive brine, usually straight from a jar of olives, has been added to the drink. An olive garnish is completes this popular cocktail. Most bars add equal parts vermouth and ‘olive juice’, though you can specify ‘extra dirty’ or ‘filthy’ if you prefer more brine.


‘Straight up’ – or simply ‘up’ – refers to any drink that is prepared with ice but then strained into a (preferably chilled) glass. It’s the overwhelming preference for Martinis, and most classic cocktail-lovers don’t have to specify this when ordering – it is just what’s assumed when you ask for one.


James Bond fans the world over have been asking for their Martini to be ‘shaken, not stirred’ for years – but what’s the science behind this specification? Ordering a Martini ‘shaken’ means it is slightly diluted. This is because the shaking motion breaks off tiny ice shards that can quickly water down a drink. Shaking also brings air into the drink, while stirring keeps the consistency velvety.


A ‘Stirred Martini’ sees the ingredients mixed with ice in a shaker or mixing jug and stirred with a bar spoon for at least 45 seconds. This ensures the drink is properly chilled but not overly agitated. It is then strained into a glass.

Today, any cocktail bartender will tell you that Martinis are better when stirred. If you really want to sip like 007, then order a Vesper Martini which was made famous in the Bond movie, Casino Royale.


Throwing is an old-school technique that you don’t see happen in bars which is a shame as it not only cool to watch, there is a science behind it as with the Shaken Martini. A Thrown Martini is created by pouring the ingredients from a tumbler high above your head into a tumbler held below.  Cool?  Absolutely.  But this technique works to release aromatics, resulting in a silky-smooth sip. It requires a steady hand and razor-sharp accuracy but, like every expertly crafted gin cocktail, practice makes perfect. Or just order it at a cocktail lounge and enjoy the spectacle.


For an unusual but eminently effective garnish, ask for a Gibson Martini and you’ll find it’s topped with a pickled onion instead of an olive or a citrus twist. Yep, it’s as simple as a garnish change.


Not a common order, but an interesting one. Ordering a ‘burnt Martini’ tells the bartender that you’d like a splash of smoky single malt added to your drink.


An Espresso Martini is usually made with vodka however by swapping the vodka with gin it is taking it back to the true martini style.  Then you add the Kahlua and expresso coffee, give it a shake and pour it into a chilled martini glass and watch that wonderful foam rise to the top.  It make the perfect after dinner cocktail.


Ordering your Martini ‘with a twist’ means that you would like a strip of citrus peel to be twisted across the top of your drink, releasing aromatic oils into the cocktail. You can typically choose between orange, lemon and lime or even a red grapefruit which again adds another unique flavour. You can either choose to pop it in your Martini to enjoy the developing flavour or leave it out.

Check out the Martini Whisperer’s guide to making the perfect Martini here

If you would like to experiment at home with making different styles of Martini’s the we suggest checking out our range of Martini Ready to Mix Cocktail Packs.