Cocktail & Other Recipes Cocktail Type Classic

11 Martini Variations to Try Right Now

The classic can be tweaked in so many different ways.

Gibson cocktail
Gibson Image: / Tim Nusog

A Martini is possibly the most personal of drink orders. Nearly every drinker, it seems, prefers theirs a different way. Even if sticking to the classic gin-and-vermouth formula, there are endless gins, a number of garnishes, even different gin-to-vermouth ratios with which to customize the classic cocktail. And then there are the real twists: swapping out the gin or even the vermouth for a different spirit, or adding new flavors altogether. We won't even get into the plethora of drinks that have "Martini" in their name (we're looking at you, Appletini) but resemble the original in neither form nor flavor.

Among these 11 Martini variations, you're sure to find one that suits your every drinking mood.

1. Dry Martini

Dry Martini / Tim Nusog

We'll start with what's generally considered the most classic Martini style. This combination of London dry gin and dry vermouth in a 5:1 ratio, plus a dash or two of orange bitters and a lemon twist, is a go-to for drinkers worldwide. Note that the "Dry" in the drink's name refers to the relatively small amount of vermouth called for, rather than the "dry" classification of both the gin and vermouth used.

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2. Dirty Martini

Dirty Martini / Tim Nusog

Keep the Dry Martini's gin and dry vermouth in the same ratio, forget the orange bitters and instead add a splash of olive brine and a festive multi-olive garnish that doubles as a snack, and you have this popular and slightly savory Martini variation.

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3. Vodka Martini

Vodka Martini / Tim Nusog

Martini purists will insist that using vodka in place of gin renders this drink not a Martini at all. Our response: That's why it has "Vodka" in the name instead of merely calling it a standard Martini. Make it as you would the standard Dry Martini, but grab a bottle of high-quality vodka rather than gin. And contrary to how Agent 007 orders it in the James Bond series of films, be sure to stir, not shake, this cocktail.

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4. Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini / Tim Nusog

This cocktail really isn't a Martini at all, but the combination of vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso or cold-brew concentrate and simple syrup, created by bartender Dick Bradsell in the 1980s, is such a popular drink that everyone should know how to make it.

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5. Smoky Martini

Smoky Martini / Tim Nusog

Dale DeGroff, also known as King Cocktail and the grandfather of the contemporary cocktail revival, throws the simplest yet most profound of twists into the standard Martini recipe: He swaps in blended Scotch whisky in place of the usual vermouth.

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6. Breakfast Martini

Breakfast Martini / Tim Nusog

We wouldn't necessarily recommend starting off your day with this tart-and-sweet cocktail, but we won't discourage it, either. Naren Young's combination of gin, Combier, lemon juice and rhubarb marmalade incorporates early-morning flavors into a drink that's delicious well into the evening hours, too.

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7. French Martini

French Martini / Tim Nusog

Another drink that's a Martini in name only but too delicious not to sing the praises of, this creation by bartender and distiller Allen Katz combines vodka, pineapple juice and creme de cassis for a fruity and complex cocktail.

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8. Porn Star Martini

Porn Star Martini / Tim NusogĀ 

While we're on a roll with delicious fruity "Martinis" that include neither gin nor vermouth, we should mention this drink, created by Douglas Ankrah at London's Townhouse bar. It mixes vanilla-flavored vodka with passion fruit in the form of both liqueur and puree, plus lime juice and vanilla simple syrup. It's always properly served with a sparkling wine chaser.

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9. 50/50 Martini

50-50 martini / Tim Nusog

Mixing equal parts gin and dry vermouth, plus orange bitters and a lemon twist, this Martini "variation" in fact hews the closest to the original Martini recipe, which in the late 19th century called for equal parts gin and sweet vermouth, plus Angostura bitters and a lemon twist. This (dry) vermouth-heavy version remains a favorite today.

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10. Reverse Martini

Reverse Martini / Tim Nusog

If the 50/50 is still too light on the vermouth for you, try this spin, which comes close to reversing the proportions of gin and vermouth in a standard Martini. With nearly twice as much dry vermouth as gin, plus a barspoon of maraschino liqueur, this lower-ABV cocktail is a perfect way to start or end your evening.

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11. Gibson

Gibson / Tim Nusog

A cocktail so beloved there's a bar named for it in seemingly every city, the Gibson is one of the least complicated Martini renditions: gin (or vodka) and dry vermouth in the standard Dry Martini proportions, plus a pickled cocktail onion or two as a garnish. Elegant simplicity, perfected.

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