The perfect cocktail.

Without question, this is my favorite cocktail. Why? is the question. I love powerfully flavored, herbaceous, sweet-sour, complex cocktails. But I think it’s precisely the oppositeness of all those qualities that draws me ever back to the Martini. Bone dry (just a capful of cold vermouth for torque and contrast), minimalist, powerful, finished with a shimmer of lemon. (An olive makes it almost a different drink.)

I love the brutal straightforwardness of it. Akin to the flinty minerally nature of a great Chablis, the Martini’s appeal lies in it’s stoney spareness. Also, it packs a punch—a good measure of its pleasure.

I asked Laura Lippman, venerable crime novelist (this one features some excellent kitchen/cooking scenes), former newspaper reporter, essayist, and one of the few friends for whom the martini is The Choice, why. She wrote back without a definitive answer, uncommon for this most definitive of intellects: “Maybe the martini is my little black dress?” Indeed. (Laura has a book of essays out this August, highly recommend.)

In the video I read her personal convictions on the martini; I mix my own very personal martini—not shaken, ever (I loathe a Martini with an ice floe atop), and this one is not even stirred; and I conclude with Dorothy Parker’s venerable ditty.

Mixing the perfect Martini.

Happy Friday one and all!

The Martini

A recipe for the perfect version of the perfect cocktail.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 1 min
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American
Servings 1


  • 3 ounces gin (as close to frozen as possible)
  • 1 frozen martini glass
  • 1 capful chilled dry vermouth (see notes below)
  • 1 capful cold water
  • 1 lemon twist


  • Remove the gin and the glass from the freezer.
  • Combine the gin and the vermouth in the glass. Add the water and the twist.


To simplify making the martini and dispense with the stirring to chill it, I freeze my gin and add it straight to a frozen glass. To compensate for the dilution one would get from stirring it with ice, I add a little water. This makes the flavor of the gin more accessible.
As for vermouth—I want to know it’s there. None of this wave a bottle of vermouth over the glass business. But I don’t want the flavor to be pronounced, either; I want merely the suspicion of vermouth. I can go as high as a 6 to 1 ratio of gin to vermouth—that would be about 1-1/2 teaspoons for a 3-ounce pour. A capful is about a teaspoon, and it’s right there, ready to be of measuring service.
I prefer Beefeater. I also love Hendrix, and for a martini, Plymouth. I’ve recently tasted the pricey Monkey 47 and it’s fabulous, but again, a special occasion martini.
Keyword beefeaters, dry vermouth, Gin, lemon twist