Here is everything you need to know about martinis, from how to order a martini out, to what’s in it, and the best dirty martini recipe. 

A close-up photo of a cold dirty martini in a coupe glass with a sprig of rosemary and a green olive.

One of the first cocktails I ever ordered in my early 20s was a dirty martini. My girlfriend and I would sit at an outdoor table sipping our martinis, chatting and nibbling olives. 

The martini is one of the most classic cocktails I can think of. My grandmother’s 1930’s Old Mr. Boston Bartender’s Guide includes several iterations.

If you’re like me and don’t like sweet cocktails, a classic or dirty martini may be your new favorite. Keep reading for all the details and my favorite dirty martini recipe. 

A beautiful Anthropologie coupe glass filled with a cold dirty martini with skewered garlic olives in a white kitchen.

How to Order a Martini 

If you’d like to order a martini in a restaurant, there are a few things to know. The server may ask if you’d like gin or vodka and if you have a brand preference. 

They may also want to know if you like a “dirty martini.” The last time I ordered a martini, the bartender even asked “how dirty would you like it?” 

When ordering a martini out, you first need to decide if you want a shaken or stirred drink. If you’re not sure, ask your bartender which they recommend.

Shaken cocktails are generally lighter and more refreshing since they are diluted by ice, while stirred cocktails are denser and more flavorful.

Wet vs Dry Martini 

If you’re ordering a dirty martini, you’ll also need to decide if you want it “dry” or “wet”.

Dry martinis are made with little to no vermouth, while wet martinis have more vermouth. Vermouth is lower in alcohol than gin or vodka, so know that if you order a dry martini, it will be very strong. 

Bottles of vodka and dry white vermouth sit on a marble countertop next to green olives.

What’s in a Martini

  1. Gin: Gin is a grain-based spirit infused with botanicals and juniper berries. It’s the main ingredient in classic martinis, but many people prefer vodka instead. 
  2. Vermouth: Martinis are often made with dry vermouth, but sweet vermouth can also be used.
  3. Ice: Martinis need to be served ice cold. This is achieved by shaking with ice. If you don’t want your martini diluted at all, you can use very cold ingredients and a chilled glass instead. 
  4. Garnish: Traditional garnishes include lemon peel, cocktail onions, or olives. 

A small green bottle of Dolin dry white vermouth sits on a marble countertop next to a dish of green olives.

What is Vermouth? 

Vermouth is a fortified wine that is added to cocktails for flavor. You can find this in the wine or cocktail section of many grocery stores.

While it’s most often used for cocktails, dry vermouth can also be enjoyed as an aperitif and goes well with pesto, creamy cheeses, and vegetables.  

There are different types of vermouth, so be sure to check which one you’re buying. For martinis, you’ll want a dry white vermouth, as opposed to a sweet red, which one would use for a Negroni cocktail.  

Like other white wines, vermouth needs to be refrigerated once opened. It should last for about a month in the fridge. 

A vintage crystal cocktail shaker pours a homemade dirty martini into a couple glass garnished with skewered olives.

What is a Dirty Martini? 

A dirty martini is a martini that has been “dirtied” with olive juice. It’s up to you how dirty to make it. I like mine pretty dirty, with lots of olive juice. 

There are several types of olives you can use but they should be pitted green olives. I love these Garlic or Jalapeno Stuffed Martini Olives from Delallo

How to Make a Martini

While James Bond certainly has made this cocktail seem sophisticated, it’s very easy to make at home. 

Simply shake your gin or vodka and dry white vermouth together with ice in a shaker and pour into a martini glass or couple like I’ve used here. 

What to Serve with Martinis at Home

Yield: 1 martini

Dirty Martini

Prep Time 3 minutes
Total Time 3 minutes

Learn how to make a classic martini or dirty martini with this simple recipe.

A close-up photo of a cold dirty martini in a coupe glass with a sprig of rosemary and a green olive.


  • 2 1/2 ounces gin or vodka
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive brine (for a dirty martini)
  • ice
  • 2-3 olives


  1. Chill your martini glass in the freezer.
  2. Pour the gin or vodka, vermouth, and olive brine into a cocktail shaker with ice. If you don't have a cocktail shaker a mason jar works well. Shake vigorously until very cold, about 30 seconds. A small glass filled with 2.5 ounces of gin or vodka is poured into a vintage crystal cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  3. Strain the martini into the chilled glass and garnish it with olives. I like to skewer the olives on a cocktail skewer. A homemade martini is poured from a cocktail shaker into a beautiful coupe glass filled with skewered olives.
  4. Enjoy right away while cold.


This recipe is for a dirty martini, which I like because of the salty briny flavor and bit of dilution. For a classic martini, omit the olive juice and garnish with olives, a twist of lemon, or a cocktail onion.

The exact amount of vermouth is up to you. Some people like it very wet, with more vermouth, and some prefer it "dry" with little to no vermouth. Keep in mind that vermouth is lower in alcohol than gin or vodka, so the less you use the stronger the martini.

Choose good quality spirits and olives here, as there are only a few ingredients in a martini. Use pitted green olives - garlic, jalapeno, and pimento-stuffed all work well for extra flavor.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 martini
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 120Saturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.