If you didn’t know any better, you might assume the classic martini was a vodka-based drink. And while it can be made with vodka (it usually needs to be referred to as a “vodka martini” in that case), historically speaking, the main ingredient is actually gin. The next ingredient is vermouth. From there, this highly adaptable cocktail can be made a variety of ways — depending on the drinker’s preference.
Do you enjoy your cocktail a little sweeter? Use sweet vermouth. Do you enjoy it dry? Dry vermouth is for you. Do you enjoy your cocktails on the boozier side? Add a lot more gin than vermouth. In fact, if you really love the botanical spirit, a simple splash of vermouth will do. Throw in an olive, or a lemon peel and you have the makings of a great evening.
Since June 19th is National Martini Day, we decided to ask some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the best gins to mix into the iconic drink. James Bond would be proud of their choices — running the gamut from household names to lesser known brands.
Tanqueray No. 10
Chris Gaeta, bartender at The Dawson in Chicago
I like to choose a gin that truly celebrates the spirit and the one that always comes top of mind is Tanqueray No. 10. Besides being an amazing gin for cocktails, the small bitch production holds its own with just a splash of dry vermouth. You can experience notes of juniper and pine but also more citrus flavors like grapefruit, orange, and lime.
I like how clean and complex this gin opens up when diluted just right — which makes it ideal for use in a martini.
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The Damrak Harbour Method: Shaken Glassware: Coupe Glass Garnish: Dried Orange Wheel -⅔ oz Lemon Juice -⅔ oz Green Tea Syrup -⅓ oz @ferrandcognac Dry Curaçao -2 oz @damrakgin Combine all the ingrediënts in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Add garnish. • I've started a new drink in the making. Starting with this Gin Sour.🍋 The goal for this drink is creating a story, that is changing this drink to a tiki drink. So a concept drink, with knowing what I kinda want to reach in the end. So short story: Sour -> ? (Dont know how many changes it gets) -> Tiki.🗿 For the story about this drink we start at the origin. It’s the Golden Age. The Damrak harbour (Amsterdam’s “inner harbour”) is the mooring place for merchant ships arriving from and departing to exotic ports across the globe.🗺 Here herbs, fruits and spices are unloaded🏗 before being weighed and tested for quality.👨🏼🔬 This drink is composed out of some of the fruits and spices that this harbour received. As we received many oranges from Curaçao, herbs and spices from South East Asia oh… And gin became recently very popular as a typical English product and a hype was born. • Cheers • #MixersOriginals #MixersDamrakHarbour #MixersCapeColony #CocktailCoalition #Lemon #GreenTeaSyrup #Teacocktail #Gin #Amsterdamgin #Drycuraçao #orangeliqueur #Damrakgin
Ryan Andrews, lead bartender at Prohibition in San Diego
This is an impossible question to answer as every gin is unique and different. If I want a citrusy martini, I’ll go with something like Damrak. If I want savory, I’ll go with Gin Mare or St. George Terroir.
The Botanist Gin
Cari Hah, bar manager at Big Bar in Los Angeles
I’m a martini fanatic and the gin I use depends on the kind of martini I’m making. If I’m in the mood for a dirty martini, I love using Botanist Gin and adding a measure of Dirty Sue Premium Olive Juice to the party with really dry vermouth (Miro dry vermouth is my favorite). The Botanist Gin is made at Islay in Scotland and it has a really subtle savory smokiness that goes perfectly with Dirty Sue.