Certain situations just call for a martini, but if you’re not yet a connoisseur of the classic cocktail, it can be an intimidating drink to order. But it doesn’t have to be. Here, Lee Zaremba, Beverage Director of Boka Restaurant Group, breaks down the things to consider when ordering the ultimate cool-girl drink. Keep scrolling to learn how to order a martini, a la Carrie Bradshaw.
Pick your booze base
In other words, vodka or gin? You may already have an immediate preference when thinking about the two, but if not, Zaremba suggests thinking about what kind of drink you normally go for. Do you like vodka sodas or gin and tonics? Since there aren’t many ingredients in a martini, you definitely will taste the base liquor, so keep that in mind.
Dry or dirty martini?
Dry martinis contain vermouth, a fortified wine with a botanical flavor; it plays nicely off the flavor of gin, which is why gin martinis are typically ordered dry, explains Zaremba. Dirty means olive juice is used instead of vermouth. “The olive juice adds brininess, and you can also specify how dirty you want it based on how much of that salty flavor you want,” he says. ‘Lightly dirty’ means just a splash; ‘dirty’ is about half an ounce (for about three ounces of alcohol); and ‘filthy’ will have about an ounce. And again, while traditionally gin martinis are ordered dry and vodka martinis dirty, that’s not a hard and fast rule, notes Zaremba. It’s really a personal preference.
Choose your garnish
Martinis are most often garnished one of two ways—with a twist, a lemon peel that adds a hint of citrus flavor, or an olive. Dry martinis usually come with a twist and dirties with an olive, but again, you can make the final call if you prefer otherwise.
Shaken or stirred?
James Bond was onto something. “Shaken not stirred” is a thing. The ice used in a shaker dilutes the martini somewhat, and also makes the drink extra cold, both factors that can make the final result slightly easier to drink. On the flip side, stirred martinis are less diluted and the flavor is better preserved, making them an ideal method for dry and gin martinis, says Zaremba.
When in doubt, go for the gateway martini
If you’re not quite sure whether you like martinis, Zaremba recommends ordering a Vesper martini. The classic cocktail contains both vodka and gin, plus either Lillet Blanc or Coqui Americano (both fortified wines). “It’s drinkable because it has a touch of sweetness, yet is also slightly bitter,” he says. “It’s also a great choice if you’re unsure about gin, since the other spirits balance it out and the gin flavor isn’t overpowering,” he adds.
But above all else, don’t be afraid to chat up your bartender. “Tell them what flavors you like, what you don’t like, and if you’re not sure about something, tell him or her that, too,” advises Zaremba. They can help guide your choices so that you end up with a martini you love.