How to order a martini in five simple steps
1. Pick a base liquor
OK, here's the thing: the martini was originally conceived of as a gin cocktail. And if you ask any purist, they'll defend their hardline juniperian devotion until death or sobriety, whichever comes first. But you know what? Those people are our parents. They have cocktail hour at 4pm so they can make it to their 5:30 mandatory coat-and-tie dinner reservation at least 15 minutes early. Today's a new day, and as long as you approach the situation with confidence, no bartender worth his beard is going to shame you for requesting vodka.
That's all to say that your first order of business is to decide if you want to be sipping on gin or vodka. Gin drinkers can choose between a few different types, including London Dry (subtle, traditional -- think Beefeater, Gordon's), Plymouth (warming and smooth with a touch of citrus, also weirdly both a style and a brand), and Old Tom (sweeter, fuller-bodied, sometimes aged like Ransom Old Tom). Fans of fruitier, fuller-bodied, or more modern cocktails should look to New Western or New American gin, a catch-all style with a diverse botanical bill and/or a less traditional makeup (i.e., Hendrick's, Aviation).
Vodka, on the other hand, can be sorted by primary ingredient and level of refinement. Most vodka is distilled from grain and drinks clean, crisp, and citrusy -- think Absolut, Stoli, Smirnoff. Creamier styles like Chopin begin life in potato form and some even come from fruit or vegetables, like Diddy’s grapetastic CÎROC. In some cases, price can also indicate taste. Small-batch or luxury brands like St. George and Absolut Elyx require serious time and care while your harsher, plastic-handled college BFFs are much easier to crank out en masse.