top of page

How Dry Is Your Gin Martini?

Using just two ingredients, the classic gin martini is one of the simplest cocktails to make but also one of the easiest to screw up.

At its absolute boiled-down simplest, a gin martini is just gin and dry vermouth. From there, questions arise with how much gin do you use, how much vermouth do you need in a martini, should you shake, should you stir… and that’s all before we start talking garnishes.

And before we get onto vermouth ratios, it’s important to remember there is in fact a third ingredient that plays an important role here: water.

The ice that’s cooling your cocktail is diluting the drink too, not only toning your martini but also allowing botanical oils to release their aromas and flavours that would otherwise remain hidden.

Why Add Vermouth To A Martini?

Dry vermouth—like Maidenii’s or this one from 78 Degrees Distillery—is an integral part of a martini.

It does a number of jobs in this classic cocktail, especially taking the alcohol burn off the gin, rounding off the edges and improving the martini's texture.

As a rule, we find the smoother the gin, the less vermouth we need in our martini. And that has nothing to do with its ABV.

Dry vermouth, which is a kind of fortified wine, has a light herbal flavour that adds an extra layer of complexity to the martini. It’s called dry vermouth simply because—like wine—it’s not sweet, which is the other end of this spectrum.

Don’t let it break your brain, but for whatever reason the less dry vermouth you have in your martini, the ‘drier’ it is.

In other words, you order a martini ‘very dry’, the bartender will use less vermouth.

How Much Vermouth Do You Add To A Martini?

The ratio of vermouth to gin in a gin martini varies from bar to bar and from bartender to bartender too. As for consumers, this varies even more!

Winston Churchill famously took his gin martini so dry that it’s said he would merely bow in the direction of France before his first sip. So just gin for Winston.

Others prefer a 50/50—half gin and half vermouth, while a ‘perfect martini’ is equal parts dry and red vermouth added to gin.

But generally speaking, for a classic gin martini, it’s between four to eight parts gin to one part vermouth.

The International Bartenders Association, which has in its membership 64 national guilds representing countries from all around the world—including the Australian Bartenders’ Guild, has a gin martini recipe specifying a 6:1 gin-vermouth ratio.

For us, we like to 'rinse' the ice we’re using with vermouth. Pour in vermouth over ice, mix it, then strain out the vermouth so we’re left with vermouth-coated ice. Then we measure in the gin.

So a dry martini for us, thanks.

And in answer to our earlier question: always stir, never shake.


bottom of page