How to Make a Classic Martini, and Other Terminology to Know

We’ll be honest, the first time we ordered a martini, it felt like a step towards maturity. But making one? That’s some serious #adulting right there. Whether you’re attending graduation festivities, or are the graduate yourself, it’s time to be like James Bond’s and learn to make the cocktail that writer E.B. White referred to as “the elixir of quietude.” Though it’s a ubiquitous drink (any bartender learns this one early on), it’s also a fun one to master in one of its many iterations. Whether you order it shaken or stirred, straight, on the rocks, dirty or with a twist is your choice, but these are the details you need to know.

The booze

Though it’s classically prepared with gin, a martini can also be prepared with vodka. Since it became a mainstream cocktail in the 1920s, it has been prepared with a combination of gin (or vodka) and dry vermouth—four parts gin to one part vermouth—though the ratios differ depending on taste.

Shaken vs. stirred

A martini is “shaken” in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice, then strained into a glass. Though you’ve probably seen more of the theatrics of mixologists shaking cocktails, stirring is also an important technique behind the bar, and is a more gentle way of combining the ingredients. For a martini, stirring is the way to go. The result is a cold, refreshing cocktail that won’t become diluted with ice.

Straight up (or simply, up)

This means that your martini will be served in the familiar martini glass.

With a twist

You know that classy curl of lemon rind in a martini? That’s a twist! It’s a simple and easy way to add a zingy tanginess to your cocktail, and as easy as peeling a bit of lemon peel and popping it in.


Instead of a lemon rind “twist,” martinis are often ordered with an olive. When you add the olive, if a little extra juice gets poured in, it makes for a “dirty” martini.

The recipe

To make this sophisticated cocktail, you’ll need just a few ingredients and of course, a recipe.

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