Some things just go together -- and the obvious accompaniment to food is drink. Welcome to Booze52, in which we explore all manner of libations, from A to Z, that do much more than just wash down a meal. 

Today: We’re stirring up the most classic cocktail of all.

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In the 50s, martinis were what Mom and Dad sipped before a dinner of meatloaf, garden salad, and creamed corn. 

Not anymore, of course. Cocktails have made an extraordinary comeback and the martini is undoubtedly leading the charge. It has a clean, bracing taste, and we won’t lie -- drinking one just makes you look classy. 

Where was the cocktail born? The most referenced story in the history books is that it all started in the 1860s with a cocktail called a Martinez -- made of gin, sweet vermouth, bitters and maraschino liqueur. Recipes evolved from there, but the martini pioneer is still largely unknown: “It’s kind of like asking who made the first airplane,” cocktail author Barnaby Conrad said in one interview. 

Ratios back in the early days were often 1:1 gin to vermouth. From there, they’ve skyrocketed as high as 100:1, but below is my favorite blend. (Read even further to discover yours.)

Gin Martini

2 ounces gin
1 ounce vermouth
Green olive or lemon twist for garnish 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.


How to Make the Perfect Martini for You

 Never freeze your alcohol -- the ice you use during stirring not only chills the liquid down efficiently, but it infuses it with enough water to temper the alcohol burn. Water is an essential component of a well-mixed martini.
• Feel free to play with the vermouth ratio a bit according to your own palate. 
• Many classic recipes call for orange bitters -- I like a few drops for extra complexity, and if you make yours this way, invite me over.
• Whatever you do, drink your martinis in moderation. Heed the words of Dorothy Parker:

I like to drink a Martini
But only two at the most.
Three I’m under the table,
Four I’m under the host.

Photos by James Ransom


Join the Conversation

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Christopher Whittington
    Christopher Whittington
  • JadeTree
  • retired expat in Mexico
    retired expat in Mexico
  • Jim Rain
    Jim Rain
  • Mlouise
I spend about an equal amount of time behind the laptop and behind the stove. In between preparing and writing about food, I love to hang out with my husband, three children, big shaggy dog and two cats. History is also my thing, especially the Regency period, U.S. Westward expansion and World War II. Favorite drinks: good pinot noirs and classic martinis. Favorite book: Pride & Prejudice. Favorite obsessions: Laura Ingalls Wilder and South Dakota


Christopher W. May 5, 2013
My mother and father taught me to make martinis very, very dry, which meant that there was a dusty old bottle of vermouth in the back of the liqueur cabinet. The martini was made with good vodka, stirred with ice, strained into a chilled martini glass, with an olive, and the only presence of vermouth was that it remained unseen in the liqueur cabinet gathering more dust.
JadeTree February 15, 2013
Thanks to the Valentine's Day menu suggestion, I made martini's for the first time on Valentine's night (why did I ever wait so long?!). Made one as here, the 2:1 ratio, and the other 4:1, both with a twist. Absolutely delicious no matter what, but the husband loved the 2:1 and I the 4:1. Totally Jack Sprat and his wife; happiness all around, which seems indeed to signify the importance of individual preference. We drank them while catching up on Downtown Abbey - this is crazy romance with two small children sleeping nearby!
Author Comment
Erika K. February 17, 2013
haha, Downton Abbey and downing martinis. I like your style JadeTree!
retired E. January 16, 2013
Well, I like a Viper Martini, the original 007 recipe is equal parts gin and vodka, a cap of Lillet, our into ice and stir, stir, stir....and two olives and one onion. Because all our friends want at least one martini this recipe is perfect when made in a pitcher. Do not forget to remove the ice.
Author Comment
Erika K. January 17, 2013
Wow, haven't heard of this version, will need to try.
Jim R. January 10, 2013
I'm fully behind a dash or two of orange bitters. But I'll so a 2:1 gin:vermouth ratio makes for a pretty wet martini. For me, 4:1 is the right recipe.
Jim R. January 10, 2013
I must have had too much gin. I have no idea what "I'll so" was supposed to mean.
Author Comment
Erika K. January 17, 2013
ha ha - I finished it as "I'll so bet a 2:1 gin:vermouth ratio ... " My ratios are on a sliding scale based on the kind of day I had.
Mlouise January 10, 2013
To kick it up a notch, try to find a bottle of Dolin Vermouth de Chambery....using this brand of vermouth is akin to leaving college jug wine behind for a really wonderful small vineyard red.
Author Comment
Erika K. January 10, 2013
I enjoy studying cocktail evolution through the eras. Glad to know that some just don't need to be messed with! (I gotta have the olive too!)
dymnyno January 10, 2013
I am a Martini, straight up with an olive drinker. I have given up ordering them in many foreign countries because as soon as you say "martini" they only know about Martini and Rossi vermouth!
Nancy L. January 18, 2013
I'm actually quite fond of Tomolives in my martinis so as to confine the majority of my caloric intake to the alcohol. The Tomolives pack quite a punch and are also quite fun in Bloody Marys and Bloody Marias.
Brian S. January 10, 2013
Um, the Wright Brothers made the first airplane. So it's not "kind of like asking" that.
Kenzi W. January 10, 2013
Let's all be friendly in the name of the Martini! We can probably both drink to that.
fiveandspice January 10, 2013
Actually, if you'd like to mince words, I think the Wright brothers made the first controlled, sustained flight in an airplane. I don't think they built the very first airplane.