How to Order a Martini Like a Boss – some Martini variations explained

There are many variations of a Martini and sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the choice. With these tips, however, you will quickly sound like an expert, exploring the different versions of the classic cocktail and finding the most appealing version that suits you.

Let’s start with the basics…

Firstly, the original Martini was, and still is, made with gin. If you want a Martini made with vodka you need to ask for Vodkatini or a Vodka Martini.

Back in the 1950s in the “Mad Men” era in Manhattan, a Martini was made with gin, vermouth and orange bitters and garnished with an olive. In those days, people enjoyed a sweeter version with the gin and vermouth at a 50:50 ratio. Today, however, the most common pour is four parts gin to one part vermouth as people prefer a slightly drier cocktail.

Let me explain a little more how the ratio actually works.

There are three main types of Martini: wet, dry and perfect. Vermouth is a fortified wine flavoured with botanicals, and it makes a Martini either sweet or dry, depending how much vermouth is used in the recipe.

Wet means the drink is sweeter, so the ratio is normally 3:1. Wet is still made with dry vermouth rather than sweet, though.

Dry indicates the Martini should be drier than normal, around a 6:1 ratio. Extra Dry would be around a 15:1 ratio. Some people like their Martinis almost bone dry, in which case the glass is rinsed with vermouth, which is then discarded before the ice-cold gin is added. Churchill used to think that just looking at the vermouth bottle whilst pouring the gin was enough. He basically just liked straight gin with a garnish.

Perfect Martini is mixed with equal measures of both sweet and dry vermouth and gin. The amount of vermouth can vary, but the important thing is that you use both styles of vermouth.

Other variations of Martini and garnishing

I don’t want to scare you with all these styles and options, but you are often asked a few questions when ordering a Martini. Would you like wet or dry? Olive or twist? And so on…

Shaken or stirred? Personally, I think a Martini should be stirred as shaking it will dilute the drink too much. But don’t let anyone tell you can’t have yours shaken; cocktails should be enjoyed however the person pleases.

If you are asked Straight up or on the rocks? the bartender would like to know if you prefer your cocktail served ice cold in a Martini glass or with ice from an old-fashioned glass.

With a twist means the cocktail is garnished with a lemon twist. Some bartenders also wipe the rim of the glass with the lemon skin for extra aroma. If you prefer an olive instead, you can request this at the time of ordering.

Dirty Martini is made with added olive brine and obviously garnished with an olive. You can also order Extra Dirty or Filthy which essentially just means more brine.

A Gibson is garnished with a pickled onion; this one is not widely ordered any more.

You might know a Vesper from James Bond. It is made with three parts of gin, one part of vodka and originally ½ part of Kina Lillet. Today Kina Lillet can be hard to find so it is often replaced with Lillet Blanc and a dash or two of bitters. Alternatively, try Italian Cocchi Americano. Vesper is always served shaken. Double-straining it after should help to avoid any small chips of ice in the drink.

Burnt Martini is served with a splash of peaty Scotch whisky, usually a single malt. This will add a smoky flavour to it.

Martinez is said to be the first ever take on Martini, although not everyone believes that, and there are different variations of the Martinez story as well as the recipe. One version is made with equal amounts of gin and sweet vermouth, a dash of angostura bitters and garnished with a maraschino cherry.

Bronx is basically a perfect Martini with orange juice. (see recipe below)

I normally order a Dry Dirty Martini as I am a big fan of olives and prefer less vermouth. Sometimes I also like to mix it up and order a Dry Vodka Martini with an olive.

Obviously, when vodka is used as a base you can make many flavour variations. One of the most popular is probably an Espresso Martini. Sometimes I feel like a right babe and order a Pornstar Martini – it is delicious, made with passion fruit, vanilla, vodka and lime. It is also served with a shot of champagne (you want it now too, don’t you?!)!

However, you shouldn’t feel limited when using gin. To celebrate the Martini Day on the 19th June I have made few variations of your usual Martini by using Family of Hounds London Dry Gin.

A gin bottle
Martini on the table


Lavender Martini

Family of Hounds London Dry Gin makes a great base for this Martini as one of the botanicals is lavender, which complements the cocktail so well. Other botanicals include orange and lemon peel, pink grapefruit, ginger, coriander, juniper, thyme and cardamom.

50ml Family of Hounds London Dry Gin

12½ml Dry vermouth (I used Martini Extra Dry)

12½ml  Homemade lavender syrup

2 dashes of Orange bitters

Shake all ingredients in a Boston shaker and double-strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lavender or an orange twist.

For the lavender syrup, just boil a cup of water with dried lavender, add sugar and let it simmer for 10–15 minutes. Let the mixture cool and then strain it. This can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Lavender Martini with gin

French Martini

This is usually made with vodka, but I believe it tastes better with gin.

50ml Family of Hounds London Dry Gin

15ml Chambord or another raspberry liqueur

30ml Pineapple juice

Shake all ingredients in a Boston shaker and double-strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with raspberries.


25ml Family of Hounds London Dry Gin

25ml Dry vermouth

5ml Maraschino liqueur

5ml Anise liqueur (I used Meletti)

2 dashes of Bitters

Stir all ingredients in the glass part of Boston shaker with plenty of ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a cherry.

Martini cocktails


The citrus notes from Family of Hounds London Dry Gin work beautifully in this version of Martini.

50ml Family of Hounds London Dry Gin

12ml Dry vermouth

12ml Sweet vermouth

25ml Orange juice

Shake all ingredients in a Boston shaker and strain into chilled martini glass. If you are using fresh orange juice or one with pips use a sieve as well to avoid any unnecessary bits in your drink.

Bronx Martini

How do you like your Martini? Do you ever experiment with ingredients outside your comfort zone? 

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Family of Hounds Spirits, but, as always, all opinions are my own.

You may also like


  1. I like 2 parts gin to 1 part dry vermouth with blue cheese stuffed olives. Shaken. The beauty of the Martini is it’s customizable to anyone’s tastes, and you never look like a jerk ordering it “your way” at a bar! Great article!

    1. I love blue cheese olives, but they don’t seem to be widely available in bars. This really made me want to drink Martini’s!

Share your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.