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When is a Martini NOT a Martini?

Updated on August 26, 2014
CuAllaidh profile image

Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.


The Ever Classic Martini

I admit it, I am a martini snob. I hate it when I go to a bar or restaurant and see a "Martini Bar" or "Martini Menu". It seems everyone has forgotten what a martini is, and they pass off any drink in a cocktail glass, commonly incorrectly identified as a martini glass, as some fancy martini. I can't recall the number of times I have seen a so called Martini Menu that didn't have a single martini on the menu. Loads of Chocolate Martinis and Mellon Martinis and all sorts of sweet sounding cocktails, and heck I even like a few of those so called martini's, but those are not martinis. I thought it high time I stop boring my friends with my rants about martinis and wrote an article on the subject.

Rate The Recipe

5 stars from 1 rating of Martini

Prep Time

Prep time: 5 min
Ready in: 5 min
Yields: 4
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 oz
Calories 0
Calories from Fat0
% Daily Value *
Fat 0 g
Saturated fat 0 g
Unsaturated fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Sugar 0 g
Fiber 0 g
Protein 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 1 mg
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.


  • 3 oz Gin
  • 1 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 1 (or more) olive
  • Ice

Types of Martinis

  1. Stirred Martini; Fill a lowball glass up with crushed or cubed ice, put olive in the glass, pour gin and vermouth into the glass. stir and serve
  2. Shaken Martini;fill a cocktail shaker up with ice pour gin and vermouth into the shaker,put strainer and lid on the shaker and shake well, put olive in the bottom of a cocktail glass, leaving the strainer in place pour the liquid into the cocktail glass and serve
  3. Dirty Martini; If you wish to "dirty it up" add a splash of the brine from the olives to the mix, but please just a splash. I was at a restaurant recently and ordered a martini, they waitress asked if I would like it dirty and I answered yes, what she brought me back was a cocktail glass full of olive brine with a splash of vodka and vermouth, revolting.
  4. Vodka Martini; Replace gin with Vodka and you have a Vodka Martini
  5. Sweet Martini; cut gin to one part, and replace dry vermouth with sweet vermouth

When is a Martini Glass NOT a Martini Glass

Libbey Vina Martini Glass, Set of 6
Libbey Vina Martini Glass, Set of 6

There is no such thing as a martini glass, the type of glass often referred to as a martini glass is more correctly called a cocktail glass. The reason this misnomer arose is because martinis (shaken) are properly served in a chilled cocktail glass. They are not the only cocktails that should be served in a cocktail glass but they are the iconic drink of the cocktail glass. You wouldn't call a high ball a rum and coke glass would you? Ironically stirred martinis are traditionally served in a low ball glass and not a cocktail glass at all.


Other Martini Variants

There ARE no other variants

That’s it, those are martinis, everything else is a cocktail not a martini.

Oh ok, you can vary it up a bit, the recipe above is a very dry martini. You alter the “wetness” by cutting down on the gin(or vodka). You can alter the sweetness by doing half and half sweet and dry vermouth to produce a medium martini. You can even vary the garnish some, I personally don’t like the lemon twist or much else other than the olive, but I’d be willing to allow a martini with a twist still a martini.

So I guess there are a few other variants, but add any fruit juice or other such abominations and it is no longer a martini, plain and simple. I am even going out on a limb allowing vodka martinis the name, because really a martini is gin and vermouth vodka is a later variant that properly should be identified as a “Vodka Martini” vs just a martini, and many purists won’t even allow that.

© 2014 Jeff Johnston


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    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 3 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Thanks for stopping by brit, ya those martini bars should just be honest and call them cocktails, nothing wrong with a cocktail :D

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 3 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      Wow, this is definitely one for me - great information. I know exactly what you mean about those so-called martini bars. There are several locally serving all sorts of weird and brightly-coloured concoctions.