Martini: know your Dry from your Dirty

World Best Bar

Apr 26, 2018

The Martini is to drinking what the two-step is to dance: great its own but also a solid base with which to experiment. Any discerning drinker worth their salt (or olive brine) should have at least a passing acquaintance with it. The bartender’s lips may say she’s not judging you for not knowing your dry from your dirty, but her eyes tell a different story.

The simple combination of gin and vermouth with an olive or lemon twist was made popular in Prohibition America, presumably as the vermouth took the edge off the home-brewed gangster gin of the time. As the gin got smoother, the Martini got drier. While a traditional Martini comprises two parts gin to one part vermouth, the Dry Martini laughed in the face of sobrietynd ratios rocketed to a debauched 15:1 and even a mind-boggling 100:1.


Other common variations on the theme include a Perfect Martini, made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, and a Dirty Martini, which adds a swig of olive brine. This drink sounds much sexier than it should, considering its signature ingredient is brine, surely one of the least sexy words in the English language. Further down the suggestive theme is the Pornstar Martini, which mixes vodka with passion fruit purée and liqueur and is topped up with Prosecco or Champagne. It’s not really a Martini at all, but it is a convenient way to enjoy a Martini if you can’t handle the strong stuff.




A more sophisticated take is the Vesper Martini, invented by Ian Fleming in his 1953 novel Casino Royale. In an outlandish display of bravura, James Bond orders a Martini for his love interest by asking the bartender for ‘three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel’ – how’s that for a seduction technique! You might think yourself a player, but until you’ve invented a cocktail for someone you need to up your game.


Now you know your Dry from Dirty, you can order like an absolute pro and be sure to get a cocktail you will actually like!


Photo by Neil Conway on Flickr

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