Mixology 101: Martinis and Manhattans

by Andrew Connor, Columnist


The martini is a classic cocktail in it’s own right. It’s been around since the 19th century, and has its hold in pop culture. It may conjure up images of James “Shaken Not Stirred” Bond, or the cast of Mad Men. Surely, to be a bartender, you must know how to make this drink.

Most assume a martini almost exclusively involves vodka, and this is true to some extent. However, historically martinis have been made with gin. In the end it comes down to personal preferences, but if you are making the drink for a friend, and especially if you’re making it for a client, be sure to ask for their liquor of preference.

The recipe for a standard martini is as follows:

  • 2 oz. Gin or Vodka
  • ½ oz. Dry Vermouth
  • Twist of lemon and/or Angostura Bitters to taste (Optional)
  • Olives to Garnish

The thing about the Martini is that many people like it many different ways. The above recipe is a good guide to how it should be made, but some may prefer less dry vermouth, maybe none at all. The vermouth and liquor should be poured into a shaker along with ice, and shook up (or stirred), then strained into a cocktail glass. The martini is almost always served straight up, with no ice. Many will ask for their Martini “dirty,” in which you should poor some olive juice in with the liquor and vermouth before it is shaken. Garnish with olives.

The Manhattan is similar to the Martini in it’s approach, but entirely opposite to it in content. It’s just as much a classic as the Martini, and is a must-know just as much as the Martini is. While the Martini uses vodka or gin, the Manhattan traditionally uses whiskey, and uses sweet vermouth instead of dry.

The recipe for a Manhattan is as follows:

  • 2oz Whiskey
  • 1/2oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Angostura Bitters to taste (Optional)
  • Cherry Garnish

Like the Martini, the liquor and vermouth should be poured and chilled in a shaker with ice. Serve on the rocks or straight up and garnish with a cherry. Note that the type of whisky you use is up in the air. Many enjoy the Manhattan made with Kentucky Straight Bourbon or Rye Whiskey, and some use Scotch whisky (technically called the Rob Roy). You can also use Brandy (Metropolitan) or Dark Rum (Cuban Manhattan). Like the Martini, make sure that whomever you are making the drink for specifies what liquor to use, as well as how to serve it.

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