Martini Cocktails Are Still Going Strong For 2023
Satisfaction, shaken or stirred.
The martini is one of the most iconic cocktails in the world. Its reputation for being the drink of choice for the stylish and sophisticated has made it a classic sip that has stood the test of time. Popular among casual drinkers and cocktail enthusiasts, a resurgence of the marvelous martini started in late 2021, with the meteoric rise of espresso varieties hitting a high in 2022.
The martini's official origin story is somewhat shrouded in mystery, but there’s one detail nearly everyone agrees on. Its reported first iteration was called The Martinez (based on the town in California it is said to have originated in) and was first listed in O.H. Byron’s 1884 The Modern Bartenders’ Guide as a variation: “Same as Manhattan, only you substitute gin for whisky.” Since then, the recipe has evolved and spawned multiple variations. Keli Rivers, senior Sipsmith brand ambassador, gives some insight into the traditional martini, stating, “The martini is a cocktail featuring gin and dry vermouth, sometimes vodka is substituted.”
One of Rivers’ favorite aspects of the martini is that it can be personalized for every drinker, “from the portions and styles of the vermouth to the spirit choice of gin or vodka.” Gin is unsurprisingly her martini spirit of choice. “Classically, gin martinis bring more nuances as they have different botanicals that give flavor and texture while vodka, generally a neutral flavor, will allow the herbal nature of vermouth to become the star of the show in the martini” she shares.
Regional Senior Grey Goose Brand Ambassador Marie Meyers shares the vodka first started giving the gin martini a run for its money in 1954 when sales in the US of the neutral spirit distilled from grains skyrocketed. “Businessmen and advertising executives popularized the practice of a steak and an ice-cold martini (or three) for lunch, and former US president Gerald Ford was famously quoted saying, “the three-martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency,” Meyers notes.
“The dry martinis of the ‘60s and ‘70s paved the way for the ‘anything in a martini glass is a martini’ vibe of the ‘80s where we began to see a rise in sweeter and fruitier martini cocktails such as the Cosmopolitan, Espresso Martini, and French Martini,” Meyers adds.
As for the martini’s current popularity, both Rivers and Meyers think the 2020 lockdown played a part. “Two years of COVID regulations created a desire to break from the serious nature of the day-to-day and these fun cocktails fill that need,” Rivers explains. Meyers believes the martini is more of a security blanket in beverage form. “There is a certain comfort in nostalgia, and ultimately people just want to have fun and search for moments of carefree respite,” she says. “What we’re seeing is that people simply want fun, uncomplicated drinks with a few fresh quality ingredients.”
Though the espresso martini was the “it” drink in America last year, Rivers believes the next big martini trend will be its opposite. “While salty dirty martinis have been the classic ‘flavored’ martini, I foresee using salty gins instead of olive brine being a dynamic way to be creative with your cocktail.” Rivers continues, “I’ve seen a lot of savory and umami-driven martini variations lately.”
Martini Cocktail Rules Of Thumb
So, what should a novice martini maker know before attempting this cocktail at home? Thanks to James Bond, some are still left wondering if this cocktail should be shaken or stirred. Meyers is happy to help alleviate the confusion. “Shaken or stirred is a personal preference,” she says. “When you shake a martini, you get ice crystals that float to the top and have a more frothy texture. When you stir, you get a more silky and elegant texture which I personally prefer. My advice would be to stir cocktails that only contain alcohol, such as a dry martini, and shake cocktails that contain citrus juice, coffee, cream, or egg whites, such as an espresso martini. Ultimately, it is the rest of the ingredients that dictate ‘shaken or stirred’…” she explains.
After you’ve got your method down ice cold, Meyers recommends keeping everything else cold, too. “Store your bottles in the fridge or freezer for at least 30 minutes, as well as your martini glass,” she says. And she doesn’t want you to sweat it if you don’t have professional barware at home. “A chopstick is fantastic to use as a bar spoon to stir your martini. If you’re shaking, feel free to use a mason jar or any water bottle with a wide enough lid to get some ice in there.”
Classic martinis don’t have a lot of ingredients but Rivers notes, “The many, many, many variations of this cocktail make it exciting as well as intimating to home bartenders.” To simplify, Rivers suggests using simple math. “When making martinis at home, start with using the classic two-ingredient ratio of the martini as a template,” she recommends. “You can branch out by splitting the proportions of that category. A perfect martini uses equal portions of sweet and dry vermouth stirring it over lots of fresh ice, straining it into a chilled cocktail glass, and no garnish.” Rivers adds another important piece of advice. “Taste it every few minutes to note how it changes as it warms up, a martini is a sipping cocktail after all.”
The last, but perhaps the most important tip for at-home mixologists is another thing these martini mavens agree on — good quality ingredients. “It’s hard to go wrong when you start with the best spirits and garnishes. I love a vodka that is rich and full-bodied in a martini, and Grey Goose perfectly fits the bill,” Meyers shares.
Rivers shares her preference. “I find that Sipsmith London Dry Gin makes an excellent martini base, but I also love experimenting with the flavors of Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle,” she says.
Ahead, these experts offer their top recipes for at-home martinis, perfect for vodka and gin lovers alike.
Meyers describes this drink as her “favorite” and a “great go-to” martini recipe to keep on-hand.
- 2.5 parts Grey Goose
- .5 parts Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
- 2 dashes of Orange Bitters
- Garnish: lemon twist
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir until combined and ice cold. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Sipsmith® Lemon Drizzle Martini
Rivers likes this recipe because “it reminds me of the summertime in the best way. As a big martini fan, the Lemon Drizzle Martini is a great and slightly sweeter alternative to the classic martini. It’s the perfect treat for fellow martini enthusiasts on a beautiful sunny day.”
- 2 parts Sipsmith® Lemon Drizzle Gin
- 1 part blanc vermouth
- Lemon twist to garnish
Stir the Sipsmith® Lemon Drizzle Gin and vermouth over ice. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Meyers, says she adds something that makes this recipe pop: “I use a pinch of salt, my secret ingredient!”
- 1.5 parts Grey Goose
- .75 parts coffee liqueur
- 1-part single-origin espresso
- 1 pinch salt
- Garnish: 3 coffee beans
Combine all ingredients in a shaker packed with ice. Shake hard and fast then strain in a martini glass.
Sipsmith® London Dry Gin Martini
This classic is still one of Rivers' favorites. “You can’t go wrong with a Sipsmith London Dry Gin Martini,” she says. “I love this recipe for the simple fact that it’s classic, delicious, and easy to make.”
- 2 parts Sipsmith® London Dry Gin
- .5 part dry vermouth
- Lemon twist
Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add the vermouth and stir for a few seconds. Add the gin to the mixing glass and stir briskly for 50 turns. Strain into a chilled glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Short Martini Cocktail
If you want to make a drink for a “celebratory moment,” this recipe is Meyers’ recommendation.
- 1 part Grey Goose Vodka
- 1 bar spoon Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
- 1 small dash orange bitters
- Garnish: lemon twist
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir over ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass.