How to Cocktail: Martini, Vesper and Gimlet

OK, no more procrastinating. This is the year you finally brush up on your bartending technique and start mastering some classic cocktail recipes.

Relax; not only does your “studying” involve enjoying delicious concoctions, but we also got you one of the finest teachers on the planet: talented mixologist and advisor Simon Ford.

Begin by watching his How to Cocktail videos on making the Martini, the Vesper and the Gimlet. Each is less than two minutes long and is packed with tips, history and a jigger of humor.

The best part? These tutorials will be posted permanently on our YouTube channel, so you can consult them any time you have a question. We’ll also be adding more How to Cocktail segments soon.


Arguably, the most famous of all drinks. Ford deftly explains the preparation of both the gin and vodka versions. Click here for the full recipe.


Learn to make this fresh-lime-and-gin tipple that’s a favorite of British sailors—and imbibers around the world. Click here for the full recipe.


You don’t have to be James Bond to whip up his beloved Martini variation that calls for both vodka and gin, plus a splash of Lillet. Click here for the full recipe.

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  • Chris posted 6 years ago

    Keith: the bitters is a pre-prohibition practice that is regaining popularity. I personally use Plymouth, orange bitters & a couple of drops of absinthe in mine, but I would never teach that as the 'standard' (a mythical beast, that) recipe.

    As to being able to make a drink as cold by stirring as by shaking, there have actually been experiments about that, with conclusive results (I don't think you're going to like them):

    Sue: the ratio of vermouth to gin is much disputed, but you are correct that the trend over the last 50 years has been to use less & less. This is a vicious circle: the less vermouth people use in their gin, the longer it sits open behind the bar, degrading with each passing day; by the time someone drinks their 1st martini in a bar, the experience is unpleasant due to the old vermouth, so they assume they don't like vermouth. Add to this the reformulation of the classic Noilly Prat for American tastes in the late 20th century (a decision they recently reversed, huzzah!) and the 'received' idea (of recent origins in terms of how long the martini has been around) that martinis should contain little, if any, vermouth, and it's no wonder most people shun what is arguably, a key ingredient in any martini. No vermouth = straight gin, not a martini. I'm looking at you, Winston Churchill.

    Question: have most of you anti-vermouth people ever actually tried the drink with more (fresh, good quality) vermouth than you are used to? You might be pleasantly surprised.

    Hard to find, but great vermouths: Vya, Dolin Blanc. For the Vesper, use Lillet Blanc (but see my link to Dave Wondrich's recipe).

  • Keith Purdy posted 6 years ago

    I have been bartending for 35 years and consider myself a purist when it comes to making some of the cocktails featured in your tutorials. I don't believe you should shake a martini unless James Bond walks up to the bar and orders one. I gently stir my martinis and can make them just as cold as shaking them. When a bartender shakes one it does come out cloudy like milk. I don't like them that way. Sorry. But if someone asks for their Martini shaken, I'm more than willing to accommodate. Also I don't agree with your recipe for a Mint Julep. Never have I seen someone put bitters in one. That goes in an Old Fashion.

  • Bond posted 6 years ago

    Nobody makes a proper Gimlet with anything other than Rose's Lime Cordial, its original and most important ingredient with a long and storied history of making preserved lime juice for the British Navy. (Not to be confused with Rose's Lime Juice, which is undrinkable.)

    I'm afraid I have to agree with Chris above: anyone who uses the phrase "bruises the gin" is an amateur with little knowledge other than a quick read on Wikipedia.

    Please find a real, knowledgeable alcohol historian. When people like David Wondrich exist, there's really no excuse to have this lightweight.

  • Sue posted 6 years ago

    WAY TOO much Vermouth in that Martini---certainly not today's standard.

  • Jack Lunsford posted 6 years ago

    I am an amature, at home bartender who loves to make drinks for friends at my home tiki bar in Kailua-Kona Hawaii. I must say that adding these great video clips by Simon Ford to you site is the best thing you have done to engage and educate your subscribers.

    Mahalo....let's see more.

    Jack Lunsford

  • Mike R posted 6 years ago

    Poorly done. Simon is definitely NOT one of the most talented teachers on the planet. He doesn't tell the proportions in two of the drinks, he uses way too much Lillet in the Vesper, he doesn't mention that traditionally the Gimlet is made with preserved lime juice, and he shakes drinks that shouldn't be shaken. That's probably why he's known as a Mixologist instead of a good Bartender. Why don't you leave the videos to people who know what they're doing, like Jeff Morgenthaler?

  • Chris posted 6 years ago

    Clearly, these videos were sponsored by Plymouth distillery; while I usually make my martinis with their gin, that's not the usual course of action (London Dry being the standard for the gimlet and the martini).

    More egregiously, the vesper strays pretty far from the Bond original: for a much more historically accurate recipe, see Dave Wondrich's take at Esquire:

  • Chris posted 6 years ago

    I was fine with the martini tutorial until I heard "bruises the gin". It's high time someone put an end to this pernicious canard. You cannot 'bruise' gin. Someone out there, please tell me the characteristics of 'bruised' gin.

    Having said that, you should stir your martini, unless you are dead set on having the coldest possible drink. Why? Because a shaken aromatic cocktail will be cloudy and have shards of ice in it. One of the appealing aesthetic elements of the martini is that, properly made, it is crystal clear and ice-free.

    Try adding a few drops of absinthe to the basic recipe in the video; you can thank me later (I usually use Lillet Blanc in mine, but recently acquired some Dolin Blanc, so will be experimenting with that soon).

    Current tipple: a mezcal negroni.

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