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How To Make The Perfect Martini

Ahead of National Martini Day on 19th June renowned cocktail expert, Ben Reed from Cocktail Credentials gives us his top tips on how to create the perfect martini.

For over 100 years the drinking world has been fascinated by the martini. It has been the subject of memorable quotes by politicians, playwrights and satirists respectively as “the USA’s most lethal weapon”, the “supreme American gift to world culture’ and “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet”.

My personal fascination with the martini started 20 odd years ago and has stayed with me to such a degree that it inspired me to create some rules on what to consider when creating the finest martini imaginable. For once I am not talking about my ground-breaking creation, the pineapple martini.

One particularly slow Monday afternoon at my previous cocktail consultancy, with a lack of football chat to distract me, I found myself working on a formula for how to make the perfect martini. I have taken into account external and internal variables that will affect the way that a person enjoys his/her drink.

I decided to call this the 5 T’s of the martini.

Let’s start from the top.

The first and most important T: Taste

What questions do I as a bartender have to ask my guest at this early stage? Well, all of them really (this is why quite often it’s good to have a house martini on your menu). What gin (or vodka) would you like? What vermouth would you like? What proportions of gin to vermouth would you like – you fancy a montgomery or a wet martini? How shall I mix it? What shall I serve it in? What garnish would you like?

This part of the equation is totally subjective. Anyone who loves martini’s loves theirs made a certain way. Let’s tackle this based on the premise that your customer has already chosen the ingredients, proportions, glassware and garnish (or, has put their trust in you and ordered the house martini). How, at this stage in the process, can we maximize our guest’s enjoyment of this most iconic cocktail?

Once you get past what the customer wants inside the drink, the most important element of taste is dilution. Varying levels of dilution will affect mouth-feel as well as the aroma of your guest’s martini. I’d typically be looking at approximately 25% of total volume added in the form of dilution of the ice whilst combing the flavours. Shaking, stirring or throwing will dilute ice at different rates so be sure to take that into account when utilizing these techniques. The only thing worse than an over-diluted martini is a warm one.

Second T: Temperature

Ensuring that your martini is at the optimum temperature is often influenced by the quality of ice that you use in your drink. But also by your choice of the third T: Technique.

Third T: Technique

Your choice of technique will have a knock on effect on all of the other T’s.

During the busiest times at the Met Bar, London in the 90’s - one of the first contemporary hotel bars in the UK to have a martini list - we spent time trying to ensure that the technique used resulted in drinks being put out at the right standard but as quickly as possible. We called this the diamond pour. This pour involved empting a certain amount from a bottle of gin, replaced this with vermouth and water (let’s say the split was 10:1:3) and placing the bottle in the freezer. We could then just take out the bottle and put the relevant amount of liquid into a chilled martini glass.

Which leads me to the remaining 2 T’s:

Fourth & Fifth T: Time Taken & Theatre

Don’t get me wrong, we thought our technique for our premixed martini at the Met Bar was a bit clever - the temperature was colder than ever (about - 6C with no real effort) and, it took no time at all to get it down to that temperature. Taste was great; we had of course standardized that.

However, what we had overlooked was an extremely important part of drinking a martini: the symbiotic process of making and watching the drink being made. The theatre.

The theatrical element, although less empirical, is as important an element as the more scientifically measurable variables.

I’ve seen bartenders in Stockholm ensure optimum temperature with the purest ice. I’ve watched in awe as Japanese bartenders nail the taste element and controlled dilution with the hard shake. Greek bartenders bringing ‘Meraki’ to the theatre of the cocktail. American bartenders ensuring that their guests don’t have to wait too long by chilling absolutely everything first. It seems that wherever I travel in the world, bartenders have different priorities for how they perfect their martinis, and different boxes to tick relevant to which of the 5 T’s matter most to their guests.

So here’s what I came up with.

My perfect martini

Created in approximately 3 minutes.

Served at an optimum level of coldness of -4%C.

Diluted to 25% of the total volume.

Stay connected with Ben Reed and Cocktail Credentials on Facebook and Twitter

Ready to learn how to make the perfect martini for National Martini Day? Take a look at these two DBA recipes:

Tanqueray No. Ten Gin Martini


10ml Dry Vermouth


Pour ingredients into mixing glass over ice

Stir with bar spoon

Strain and serve straight up into a chilled cocktail glass

Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

(2.1 standard drinks*- 1.7 units per serve)

Smirnoff Dirty Martini


2-3 Dashes dry vermouth

2-3 Dashes olive brine


Pour ingredients into mixing glass over ice

Stir with bar spoon

Strain and serve straight up into a chilled cocktail glass

Garnish with olives on a cocktail pin

(2.7 standard drinks*- 1.9 units per serve)

Take a look at some more martini recipes here.

(*One standard drink contains 8g of alcohol)

Have you created the perfect martini? Tweet us at @diageobarac, on Instagram @diageobarac or like us on Facebook – we love to see your creations!

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