Food & Drink

The Dos and Don’ts of Ordering a Martini

Mark Yocca / Supercall

Ordering a Martini isn’t hard. It doesn’t require a feat of strength or an unheard amount of money or even the ability to roll your Rs. But, unlike most other drinks, it does come with a few guidelines and its own etiquette. While disobeying these rules won’t result in you getting arrested, following them will ensure you wind up with the best drink possible and feel good about the interaction between you and the bartender. Here are the dos and don’ts of ordering a Martini.

DON’T order one at a dive bar

Trust us here. We’ve made this mistake. A dive bar is a place for straight booze, beer and not much else. While the Martini does fit into our two-ingredient dive bar drink rule, it requires some finesse and equipment (such as a decent mixing glass and quality ice) that most dive bars, wonderful as they are, do not possess.

DO keep it simple

While the Martini is seemingly endlessly customizable it is best to keep your instructions short and to the point. Do not go on and on about the precise ratio of gin to vermouth that you require. Do not tell the bartender how long you wish for him or her to stir your cocktail. Do not describe your ideal olive or request they add a dash of this or a soupçon of that. Keep your order clean and simple.

DON’T leave out the vermouth

If you want a Dry Martini, that’s perfectly fine. Order a Dry Martini. But do not order a Martini—hold the vermouth. That is not a Martini. That is a chilled glass of gin or vodka with a garnish. If you wish to order a glass of chilled alcohol, do so without muddying the name of a classic cocktail like a Martini.

DO specify a garnish

Because the Martini is so simple and paired down, the garnish really makes a difference. So think about it: Do you want a more savory experience with olives? Or would you like to highlight the citrusy notes of the drink with a lemon twist? Or would you like something tangy like a pickled cocktail onion? The choice is yours. Own it.

DON’T order olives if they look suspect

Sometimes, you can easily rule out one garnish. Take a gander at the quality of the olives in the garnish tray. Are they tiny and waterlogged? Are they disintegrating in front of your eyes? Opt for the twist of lemon instead.

DO call a specific gin or vodka

A Hendrick’s Martini and a Plymouth Martini are very different beasts. And while the difference between vodka brands isn’t quite as stark, it’s it still noticeable. Don’t be afraid to call your spirit brand of choice. You won’t sound snobby, you’ll sound like you have taste.

DON’T order a double

Back in the day, Martinis were smaller, containing around two ounces. So ordering a double wouldn’t seem too crazy. But today’s Martinis are comparatively massive,. Ordering a double will get you seven to eight full ounces of cocktail. If you’re drinking at a normal pace that cocktail is going to be warm by the time you get halfway through. Finish the first, then order the second, if you want another.

DO order a sidecar of olive juice if you like your Martini dirty

There is no real standard measure of olive juice in a Dirty Martini, and everyone has a different level of brine in mind. If you know you like a really dirty Dirty Martini, order one with extra olive brine on the side. That way you can add the brine as you go, making it just as dirty as you want.

DON’T do any sort of James Bond impression

This rule also applies to every other interaction you ever have in life unless you are appearing on a podcast about James Bond specifically because you are known for your James Bond impressions.