Cocktail & Other Recipes Cocktail Type Classic

15 Martini Variations for Your Every Drinking Mood

The classic can be tweaked in so many different ways.

Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini
Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini 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 potential 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, Espresso Martini), resembling the original in neither form nor flavor but only in glassware.

These 15 Martini recipes cover classic and modern-classic variations, spanning from dry to vermouth-heavy or even slightly sweet. Among them, you’ll find palate-whetting versions, ones that pair well with nearly every food, and a riff or two that will take you through to dessert or afterward.

Among these Martini variations, you're sure to find one that suits your every drinking mood. It’s up to you to choose a favorite.

  • 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.

    Get the recipe.

  • Dirty Martini

    Dirty Martini cocktail with olives / 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.

    Get the recipe.

  • 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.

    Get the recipe.

  • Vesper

    Vesper cocktail with lemon twist / Tim Nusog

    Speaking of James Bond, this cocktail comes straight from the character’s creator, Ian Fleming. In Casino Royale, Fleming has Bond recite the recipe to a bartender: “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.” Kina Lillet is no longer produced; Lillet Blanc, Cocchi Americano, or some combination of the two will bring you closest to Fleming’s drink. And of course it should be stirred rather than shaken. Still, the writer was on to something with this boozy concoction.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 5 of 15 below.
  • 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.

    Get the recipe.

  • Reverse Martini

    Reverse Martini cocktail garnished with brandied cherry / 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.

    Get the recipe.

  • Martinez

    Martinez cocktail garnished with orange peel / Tim Nusog

    This cocktail may not resemble a Martini in appearance, but it’s widely considered to be the classic’s predecessor. Its formula of gin and sweet vermouth in equal parts, plus a touch of sweet maraschino liqueur and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters, produces a dark-hued and slightly sweet drink that may initially seem unrelated to what we now call a Martini, but this proto-classic clearly influenced a number of Martini variations that remain common today.

    Get the recipe.

  • Perfect Martini

    Perfect Martini / Tim Nusog

    The “perfect” in the drink’s name refers to its use of dry and sweet vermouths in equal, or “perfect” proportions, but this version of a Martini may indeed be the perfect Martini variation for its flavors and food-friendliness. Like the Martinez, it calls for a touch of maraschino liqueur and a dash of aromatic bitters.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 9 of 15 below.
  • Turf Club

    Turf Club cocktail / Tim Nusog

    A juniper-forward gin and two dashes of absinthe set this Martini apart from the rest. Those ingredients join dry vermouth, a bit of maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters in the mixing glass, where they combine to produce a cocktail more complex in flavor than most in the category, yet still recognizable as a Martini.

    Get the recipe.

  • Smoky Martini

    Smoky Martini cocktail garnished with lemon twist

    Dale DeGroff

    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.

    Get the recipe.

  • Gibson

    Gibson cocktail garnished with pearl onions / 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. It’s elegant simplicity, perfected.

    Get the recipe.

  • Cajun Martini

    Cajun Martini cocktail with pickle garnish / Tim Nusog

    Created by the wife, Kay, of celebrity chef Paul Prudhomme for their New Orleans restaurant K-Paul’s in the 1980s, this jalapeño-infused Vodka Martini was intended to scare off potential drinkers but instead had quite the opposite effect, spreading to other bars and restaurants across the country to become a modern classic and drinkers’ favorite.

    Get the recipe.

    Continue to 13 of 15 below.
  • Gin Blossom

    Gin Blossom cocktail / Tim Nusog

    Julie Reiner created this cocktail in 2008 for the opening menu of her bar Clover Club in Brooklyn, and it has remained on the bar's menu ever since. It employs Plymouth gin and bianco vermouth in equal parts, with a splash of apricot eau de vie and a couple of dashes of orange bitters, finished off with an orange twist, for a fragrant and lightly floral rendition of the classic.

    Get the recipe.

  • Tuxedo No. 2

    Tuxedo No. 2 cocktail / Tim Nusog

    A close relation to the Turf Club, this drink skews slightly sweeter and rounder, with its use of Plymouth gin and blanc vermouth rather than dry. Like its sibling, it calls for maraschino liqueur and absinthe, and goes a bit heavier on the orange bitters. The result? A version of the classic marked by depth and intrigue.

    Get the recipe.

  • Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini

    Dreamy Dorini Smoking Martini / Tim Nusog

    Audrey Saunders, a New York City bartending legend and a protogé of DeGroff, took his Smoky Martini and gave it her own twist. She uses vodka as a base, the better blank canvas to show off the smoky flavor of the super-peaty Islay scotch used in place of vermouth, then adds a dash of herbaceous Pernod for additional complexity.

    Get the recipe.