Martinis color American culture and politics, from the notorious three-martini lunches of businessmen and Capitol Hill to James Bond’s iconic cocktail of choice. This drink epitomizes elegance and sophistication, with nearly endless variations on the classic recipe.
In order for a drink to be a martini, it must contain vermouth and either vodka or gin.
First appearing in cocktail manuals in the late 19th century, martinis became popular almost immediately. During Prohibition when alcohol was illegal, martinis became double strength.
Historical figures like Ernest Hemingway and Nikita Krushchev loved their martinis. Then-presidential candidate Gerald Ford defended martinis as an essential part of building the American Dream.
From bracing classic martinis to whimsical chocolate and espresso martinis, all cocktail enthusiasts can find a type of martini to enjoy. Read on to learn the ins and outs of one of the most iconic cocktails and the top 19 thrilling types of martinis.
Classic Dry Martini
While martinis can be made with either vodka or gin, to truly produce a classic dry martini choose gin only.
The gin coupled with dry vermouth amplifies the flowery tastes of gin’s juniper berries and vermouth’s sweet fortified wine flavor.
A classic dry martini is a powerful cocktail for those who enjoy tasting the intricacies of the liquor.
Early martinis used sweet vermouth, but that was quickly replaced for this straightforward recipe.
Martinis are commonly paired with big meals like steaks or oysters for a luxurious, decadent meal.
Because of the intense liquor flavor, using higher quality alcohol is a must when making a classic dry martini.
Born at New York’s legendary Waldorf Astoria hotel in the early 1900s, the dirty martini holds court as one of the most popular cocktails ever.
The classic dirty martini introduced an influential and long-lasting savory flavor profile using dry vermouth and olives.
A standard recipe for the classic dry martini involves two parts gin to one part dry vermouth. Add a dash of olive brine to the mixture.
Then either shake the concoction with ice in a cocktail shaker or stir the solution, based on your preference. Garnish with olives to complete this iconic drink.
Honor the sweet origins of the martini with the delicious French martini.
This bright pink cocktail appears similar to the popular Cosmopolitan, or Cosmo, cocktail.
For the purists in the audience, this drink is technically not a martini as it omits vermouth from its recipe.
Martha Stewart’s martini recipe combines one and ½ ounces of vodka with a ½ ounce of Chambord, a French black raspberry liqueur. Add ¾ ounces pineapple juice and shake well to combine.
Garnish with a lemon twist and enjoy this sweet and refreshing drink during summer happy hour or as an after-dinner drink.
Cointreau, Triple Sec, or Grand Marnier can be substituted for this recipe’s official Chambord – this helps to make it a much more versatile drink when in a pinch.
Transport to a tropical location anytime with a dazzling bikini martini.
This cocktail delivers a full sensory experience. Gaze upon the ombre sunset in the glass as the layered liquid gives off a sunset effect.
The coconut and pineapple flavors offer delicious tropical flavors.
This cocktail is another drink not technically a martini but served with a beautiful appearance in a martini glass.
A bikini martini favors rum over vodka and gin and does not include vermouth in its recipe.
To help fit in with any summer event, garnish with pineapple and cherries and get carried away by this yummy cocktail.
A chocolate martini strays far from the classic cocktails described earlier.
In the absence of vermouth or gin, this cocktail offers an easy-to-remember recipe ratio and plenty of creamy, decadent flavors for a luxurious after-dinner drink.
Most chocolate martinis combine vodka, chocolate liqueur, and creme de cacao in equal measurements.
Think one shot of each of these alcohols for one martini. Add a splash of half and a half or heavy cream to help bring the drink together.
Once shaken, strain this cocktail to remove the ice. The Pioneer Woman’s chocolate martini combines Irish cream liqueur with creme de cacao for a yummy twist on this fun cocktail.
Lemon Drop Martini
For me, the lemon drop martini represents one of the most dangerous cocktails on this list.
These easy-drinking martinis quench my thirst during an alfresco Happy Hour like almost nothing else!
Experience the delicious balance of sweet and sour with this simple cocktail. Combine two parts vodka with one part lemon juice and shake with ice.
Don’t forget to rim the cocktail glass with sugar before you begin assembling this cocktail.
While many martinis on this list are embellished with chocolate sauce or sugar on the rim, it is very welcome on the lemon drop martini in particular.
Pomegranates reach their peak during the fall and winter seasons.
This distinctive fruit holds juicy but stubborn arils, or seeds, inside its tough exterior.
Whether you choose freshly squeezed or bottled pomegranate juice, a tart pomegranate martini delivers fantastic flavor and color for your holiday and Valentine’s Day-themed cocktail parties.
Combine two parts of pomegranate juice with one part of vodka. Add a ½ ounce each of Triple Sec and club soda, as well as a splash of lemon juice.
If you bravely juiced a fresh pomegranate, toss a few of the arils into the final cocktail for an edible garnish.
Martinis are well known as powerful cocktails with potent combinations of alcohol.
Take your drink to another level with the addition of coffee liqueur and strong espresso.
An espresso martini, also called a vodka espresso, was invented in the 1980s and often fades in and out of popularity.
Skip the dessert menu and choose an espresso martini for a luxuriously sweet after-dinner drink with an added buzz.
Often considered a cringe-inducing drink for bartenders and orderers alike, I say there is no shame in drinking this amazing, flavorful cocktail.
Difford’s Guide ranks as the 20-year-old online authority about mixology, beer, wine, and all things alcohol.
This Guide seeks to answer the iconic question: shaken or stirred? According to Difford, James Bond’s signature drink would only be offered to the international spy as a shaken cocktail, never stirred.
The Vesper martini recipe calls for two ounces of gin, ⅔ ounces of vodka, and ⅙ ounces of aromatized wine, also known as vermouth.
The official recipe suggests using Ketel One vodka, Rutte dry gin, and Kina and Lillet Blanc aromatized wines. Garnish with lemon zest to complete one of the most famous drinks in literature.
Blood Orange Martini
Triple Sec ranks as one of the most versatile liqueurs you can buy.
I love to add Triple Sec to recipes like the french or pomegranate types of martinis.
This liqueur, and its close cousins Grand Marnier and Cointreau, add a terrific orange flavor to martinis and other cocktails.
Combine two parts vodka with one part blood orange juice. Add ½ ounce Triple Sec or other orange liqueur.
Sweeten to taste with simple syrup or add orange bitters for an additional layer of citrus flavor.
Blood oranges continue to grow in popularity in the United States, and are widely loved in Europe.
Consider fresh-squeezed blood orange juice for your martini, or find bottled juice in any major grocery store.
We arrive firmly back in authentic martini territory with the attention-grabbing Gibson cocktail.
Combine two parts gin or vodka with a splash of dry vermouth. Stir this mixture until well chilled instead of using a cocktail shaker.
What makes a Gibson martini a Gibson is all in the garnish. This drink demands a cocktail onion plunked into the bottom of the martini glass.
Gibson enthusiasts claim the raw onion matches the assertive botanical elements of gin.
Many contemporary bars rarely serve Gibson martinis because of the impracticality of keeping pickled onions around for this one drink.
Legend has it a New York hotel bartender developed this citrusy spin on the classic martini in 1906.
This assertive but balanced authentic type of martini gets its name from that hotel, the luxury Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City.
If you are intrigued by the blood orange martini but generally prefer more savory cocktails, the Knickerbocker martini is for you.
This cocktail’s foundation is a dry martini, featuring 2 ounces gin, ¾ ounces dry vermouth, and ½ ounce sweet vermouth. Add a dash of orange and citrus bitters for a multi-dimensional citrusy flavor.
Key Lime Martini
This cocktail lands us back into recipes for drinks in a martini glass instead of martini drinks.
The key lime martini represents perhaps the most decadent after-dinner drink yet. This refreshing cocktail combines the special ingredient of key lime liqueur.
Lime juice can substitute in a pinch, but you may need to add simple syrup to cut the bitterness of lime juice.
Heavy cream and vanilla vodka tip this cocktail into true dessert drink luxury. Shake this cocktail and pour it into a well-chilled glass.
Consider rimming the glass with graham cracker crumbs to bring home the key lime pie experience.
This type of martini arrives from across the pond, originally invented in London in the 1990s.
Don’t worry – the “breakfast” part of its name comes from orange marmalade and not bacon and eggs!
Triple Sec comes back to complement the marmalade, combining with gin and lemon juice for this refreshing citrusy cocktail.
This cocktail started a trend of infusing jams and preserves into mixed drinks.
Today, the breakfast martini can be easily replicated at home for a refreshing alternative to a mimosa or Bloody Mary.
Like the bikini martini, the Mexican martini rejects both liquors associated with martinis.
Instead, the Mexican martini uses tequila in its recipe. The result is a tantalizing remix of both margaritas and martinis in one cocktail.
Mix three ounces of Anejo tequila with one and ½ ounces of Cointreau and lime juice. Add a splash of olive brine and orange juice, and garnish with a lime wedge and olives.
Originally invented in Austin, the state of Texas has adopted this potent spin on two mixology classics.
Texas Monthly developed this signature recipe for Mexican martinis.
The raspberry martini easily adopts new flavors delivering a versatile and fun type of martini.
Some recipes suggest complementing the raspberry flavor with lime, while others mention rosemary or cranberry. Each combination delivers distinct flavors that are all worth a try.
I like to elevate my homemade raspberry martinis with an easy simple syrup. Simmer raspberries, sugar, and water on the stovetop for five minutes on medium heat.
Push this mixture through a strainer to produce syrup. Plan ahead, because this syrup must cool completely before being used for cocktails. Store the syrup in the refrigerator for a maximum of one week.
Another versatile type of martini is the mint martini.
Recipes abound for herbaceous, fresh mint martinis as well as Shamrock Shake-like creations using creme de menthe. Depending on my mood, both of these martinis can hit the spot.
Beat the heat with a fresh mint martini, combining mint leaves with cucumber and lime juice. Add three ounces of vodka and sugar before shaking vigorously.
Enjoy this specialty cocktail during the holidays or as an after-dinner drink. Like the chocolate martini, this recipe uses the easy 1:1:1 ratio.
Combine one part each of Irish cream liqueur, creme de menthe liqueur, vodka, and half and half.
Shake this decadent cocktail and garnish it with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, or sprigs of mint.
Nothing makes me feel more like a socialite than a cosmopolitan martini.
This cheerful pink cocktail combines a few delicious ingredients into a sweet, sippable cocktail. Kick-off happy hour with this mixed drink or easily replicate its simple recipe at home.
Mix one part vodka with a splash each of lime juice, Triple Sec, and cranberry juice.
If you choose unsweetened cranberry juice, you may want to add simple syrup to the taste. Garnish with lime to achieve this balanced cocktail.
Like jalapeno margaritas and Bloody Marys, a cucumber martini ranks as one of the most delightful savory cocktails available – like the breakfast martini, consider adopting this mixed drink as your next go-to brunch refreshment.
Mix two ounces of vodka with one ounce of simple syrup. Add ¾ ounce of lemon juice as well as a few drops of hot sauce.
Choose a green hot sauce to maintain the visual appeal of your cocktail. Garnish with cilantro and cucumber slices.
Martinis fall into two neat categories. Classic martinis incorporate gin or vodka with vermouth and a signature garnish. Be sure to choose the best vodka for martinis to get the best flavor.
The rare Gibson martini chooses cocktail onions while a dirty martini benefits from a splash of olive brine. An iconic drink, martinis represent confidence and discerning taste for the finer nuances of alcohols.
On the other side of the spectrum, many martini drinks avoid vermouth altogether for more decadent liqueurs instead. Many of these types of martinis earn the label from merely being served in a martini glass. Expect over-the-top sweetness and fun embellishments from chocolate, mint, and key lime martinis.
Whichever type of martini you prefer, the world of this mixed drink is as diverse as it is delicious.