What Does It Mean To Order A Martini 'Perfect'?

For such a simple drink, the martini does stir (or shake, depending on who you ask) up a lot of contention among its fans. While James Bond may be one of the most notorious consumers of this libation in popular culture, some wouldn't agree with how he orders his martini. The traditional method when making a martini is for it to be stirred. This produces a clear martini rather than one fogged by ice chips which some consider superior.

Then there's the debate over whether martinis are best with gin or vodka. Festival Wine and Spirits says that Mr. Bond is also at the center of this argument. Martinis were first made only with gin, but once Bond was seen ordering vodka martinis on the silver screen and in novel pages, it became the vogue preference for many while other devotees support the drink's progenitor.

The Monterey County Weekly says that the popularization of vodka martinis may have even contributed to the disappearance of another classic martini ingredient — vermouth.

The role of vermouth in martinis

According to Difford's Guide, in addition to gin, vermouth was one of the only other ingredients in the martini. The Monterey County Weekly claims that this element of the drink has been disappearing for decades, though. It was initially one part vermouth to one part gin. Then four parts gin to one part vermouth became the standard, and then none at all. As more drinkers chose dirty martinis made with vodka and olive juice, the vermouth became an odd obtrusion to these flavors and disappeared altogether.

Martinis are easy enough to make at home, but ordering one at a bar shouldn't require insider knowledge. While you might not be able to order a martini perfectly, you can always choose to order a perfect martini.

Sip Smith says that ordering a perfect martini isn't setting a high expectation; it's a variant on the classic that not only uses plenty of vermouth but includes two kinds. Liquor.com adds that the perfect martini at restaurant Gage & Tollner actually has more vermouth than gin for its house recipe. This might sound like a sinful take on the martini to any James Bond fan, but there is good reason to try this flavorful variation.

Perfect martini, more than just a name

Vermouth can add a lot to a cocktail. As Bitters and Bottles explains, vermouth is a wine with aromatics and herbs added to it for flavoring. This creates a variation between different styles of vermouths and even different brands. The two most common types are dry and sweet. A dry vermouth has a herb-forward palate and is typically less bitter. On the other hand, sweet vermouths will be a combination of bitter and sweet. They'll also typically add color to a drink as they are often dyed red or amber.

Liquor.com says that adding both to a martini creates a balanced and robust cocktail that might taste more like a manhattan than a clean vodka martini. Gage & Tollner also adds a few dashes of bitters, which actually brings their perfect martini more closely in line with the original recipe than anything we might think of as a martini today, per Difford's Guide.

This means it can be enjoyed alongside rich foods like steaks or roast meats served with heavy sauces. It's simultaneously herbaceous and dry enough to enjoy before or after the meal. For some, this might make it the perfect martini in every way.