Is there anything classier than a martini? From James Bond to "Mad Men," the drink has become a touchstone in pop culture that lends an air of bygone glamor to anything it touches, and the same applies to the real world. Serve this drink at a dinner party and it's bound to impress, even if your guests are wine snobs or think of themselves as cocktail connoisseurs. Its sophistication is all about simplicity. Made with just gin (or vodka) and vermouth, a martini is garnished with an olive or a twist of lemon, and served in a funnel-shaped glass with a long, delicate stem. Where champagne has its characteristic bubbles and whiskey its caramel color, the martini distinguishes itself with its crystal clear color and equally crystalline glass. There is nothing intrinsically showy about it except that the subtly itself is eye-catching.
Because of their simplicity, martinis lend themselves to adaptation. Martini glasses are the classic option for Cosmopolitans, Manhattans, and Gimlets, but the formula of gin or vodka and vermouth has received dozens (and probably even hundreds) of variations over the years, centered around everything from apples to chocolate. Our roundup of recipes celebrates martinis for the classic, timeless cocktails they are, but doesn't shy away from adding a few surprising twists. So, whether you're a martini purist or a maverick with mixology, keep reading to find your next favorite variation on the classic cocktail.
Fresh Apple Martini
A simple martini has a crisp, bright flavor with a hint of bitterness, especially when dry vermouth is used. These characteristics make apples a natural addition. Fresh apples have a similarly crisp, bright flavor, but their sweetness acts as the perfect counterpoint to the slight bitterness of the cocktail.
This recipe is a variation on a vodka martini, and uses lime juice for added acidity and brightness along with fresh apple juice. Make sure you're using cloudy apple juice rather than clear since it contains more pulp from the fruit and will consequently have a stronger flavor.
Recipe: Fresh Apple Martini
Coconut Martini Cocktail
Coconut cocktails are often sweet and heavy with elaborate garnishes, but while such concoctions are often delicious, they do not suit every occasion. This coconut martini is an ideal alternative for when you want something coconutty, but light and elegantly simple.
Made with vodka, coconut rum, coconut cream, and lime juice, it is bright and citrusy with a snowy appearance that looks just as classy at a festive winter party as it does by a pool on a summer day. Coat the rim of the glass with desiccated coconut for an even more striking look.
Recipe: Coconut Martini Cocktail
Chocolate Martini Cocktail
Sure, you could opt for a glass of brandy or port after dinner, but why not indulge in a drink that ticks a few more boxes, like the ones that call for chocolate and cream? This chocolate martini is full of velvety, chocolaty sweetness cut through with a zing of vodka, and it's a cocktail and a dessert all in one.
Don't be fooled by the sugary flavor profile, however — this cocktail is full of booze thanks to a 1:1:1 ratio of vodka, Bailey's Irish Cream, and crème de cacao, so be sure to tread lightly.
Recipe: Chocolate Martini Cocktail
Classic Martini Cocktail
There is some controversy over what, exactly, constitutes a "classic" martini. Gin and vermouth are a given, but can it be called a martini if it's shaken, not stirred? Does a shaken martini have to be referred to as a Bradford instead? And should you garnish it with a twist of lemon or an olive?
Our recipe opts for the gold standard: a stirred cocktail with a twist of lemon. As recipe developer Christina Musgraves puts it, "[I]t's simple, crisp, and delicious," everything you could wish for in a classic martini.
Recipe: Classic Martini Cocktail
Cadbury Egg Martini
Alright, candy lovers. We know you're out there. Here is a perfect opportunity for adults who love chocolate bars (isn't that all of us?) to indulge in their cravings while still looking sophisticated and grown-up. For this recipe, you'll need chocolate chips, half and half, vanilla vodka, crème de cacao, and, of course, a Cadbury Creme Egg for the garnish (and a few extra for snacking).
Whether you're serving these over Easter brunch or making them your go-to cocktail indulgence year-round, they will satisfy your sweet tooth and give you style points.
Recipe: Cadbury Egg Martini
Classic Lemon Drop Martini
One of the easiest ways to dress up a regular martini without significantly altering its winning formula is to make a lemon drop martini, a drink that has become a classic in its own right. Made with vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, and triple sec, it is a sweeter version of a vodkatini with a bright, citrusy twist.
This drink is a crowd-pleaser with its sweetness and the neutral flavor of vodka. For the summertime, it's a classy, adult version of lemonade that will go down in style at any party.
Recipe: Classic Lemon Drop Martini
Easy Espresso Martini Cocktail
Sometimes you want the best of both worlds at the end of the evening — something that will give you a light buzz, but also a hit of caffeine. Espresso martinis are all the rage for exactly this reason. As an after-dinner drink, they multitask as coffee, dessert, and a cocktail, and are so strong you'll probably only need one.
Our recipe sticks with the classic formula — espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and simple syrup. If you don't have an espresso machine, use cold brew concentrate rather than freshly brewed coffee to avoid a drink that tastes diluted.
Recipe: Easy Espresso Martini Cocktail
Classic Vodka Martini Cocktail
Whether you like them shaken or stirred, vodka martinis are one of those cocktails that every bartender (amateur or otherwise) should know how to make. Vodka, vermouth, and ice are all you need. This recipe calls for an olive garnish, but a twist of lemon is also a classic option.
Because there are so few ingredients in a vodka martini, the quality of each one is paramount. Although vodka might not have the trendiness of tequila or bourbon, its quality varies greatly, and it's worth getting the good stuff for a stellar martini.
Recipe: Classic Vodka Martini Cocktail
Pumpkin Pie Martini
Whatever your thoughts are on pumpkin spice lattes, we think you should give this martini a try. Made with vanilla vodka, hazelnut liqueur, half and half, and pumpkin spice, its secret weapon is the graham cracker and pumpkin spice rim with maple syrup.
Creamy, sweet, and lightly spiced, this is the kind of drink that might just convert pumpkin spice skeptics into true believers. It shines at brunch or as a drinkable dessert. And because martinis should be served as cold as possible, this drink provides a completely different experience to a latte that you might find that it's much tastier.
Recipe: Pumpkin Pie Martini
Classic Dirty Martini
Martinis offer so much room for customization — shaken or stirred, lemon twist or olives, gin or vodka — that a person's martini order is a narrative device in many novels and movies to illustrate a character's personality (James Bond is the most obvious example).
A dirty martini sounds dangerous and rough around the edges, but its use of olive brine has a surprising effect. Rather than muddying or obscuring the other ingredients as its name suggests, salt in cocktails actually heightens the flavors and smooths the bitterness, making it taste sweeter and brighter.
Recipe: Classic Dirty Martini
Porn Star Martini Cocktail
You might feel awkward about asking a bartender for a porn star, which makes it all the better to have an expertly-crafted recipe like this one to make on your own. Recipe developer Jennine Bryant explains that there is no exciting backstory to the name of this vanilla-infused passionfruit cocktail. Its creator simply wanted to give it a name that was as sexy and playful as its flavor profile.
Sweet, brightly colored, and full of citrusy, tropical flavor, this is far from a classic martini, but it is a delicious and eye-catching drink that is worthy of its own following.
Recipe: Porn Star Martini Cocktail
Chocolate Peppermint Martini
Chocolate and mint taste delicious in cookies and ice cream, so it stands to reason that they would taste delicious in a cocktail, too. This martini looks and tastes perfect for the festive winter season, but it's so yummy that you'll be tempted to make it year-round.
Unlike other mint-flavored cocktails, this one does not employ green food coloring. Instead, it's made with chocolate syrup, crème de cacao, vanilla vodka, peppermint schnapps, half and half, and a candy cane. With whipped cream and chocolate shavings as a garnish, it's a delicious indulgence.
Recipe: Chocolate Peppermint Martini
Eggnog is often spiked with brandy, rum, or bourbon, but for those who would rather have some eggnog with their alcohol rather than alcohol with their eggnog, we've got just the recipe.
Made with vanilla vodka, hazelnut liqueur, and eggnog, it is the perfect boozy cocktail with an unmistakably festive flair. Serve it with a whipped cream garnish and coat the glass rims with cinnamon, sugar, and maple syrup for the full eggnog experience. Even Scrooge himself would be won over by this decadent holiday concoction.
Recipe: Eggnog Martini
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