How to order a martini

“I always try a Martini out of curiosity if offered one at a private house. I would never ask for one in a pub, as opposed to a cocktail bar. Even if I got across that I didn’t want a glass of plain vermouth (horrible muck on its own), I would be bound to be given a drink with too much vermouth in it. In an emergency I’d consider calling for a large gin and a small vermouth, dipping my finger in the vermouth and stirring the gin with it.

Kingsley Amis, Everyday Drinking”


-Martinis can either be made with Gin or Vodka. The only other ingredient is a liquor called Vermouth, which is actually a fortified wine product. Vermouth is made dry or sweet. Martinis call for DRY vermouth.

-Martinis can be served straight up (no ice) or on the rocks (with ice). A straight up martini is served in a martini glass (see picture to right). A martini on the rocks is served in rocks glass.

-If someone orders the rocks on the side with their martini, it means they want the leftover ice from the shaker. In this situation you would strain their martini into a martini glass and pour the leftover rocks into a rocks glass for them. (see picture below)

-Martinis come with either olive or a twist garnish. A twist is a lemon rind, never lime! Making a lemon rind is easy, just take a wedge of lemon and remove all of the pulp and juice by peeling the section away, leaving just the thin rind. Some bars even have a special tool for this purpose, creating fancy twists that hang off the edge of the glass.

-A dirty martini will automatically come with olives as it’s a martini made to look “dirty” with olive juice. An extra dirty martini just means more olive juice. Some bars drop the olive or olives loose into the martini glass and some put the olives on a cocktail spear before dropping them in.

-Some people prefer “dry” or “extra-dry” martinis. This refers to the amount of vermouth in their drink. Dry=opposite of sweet. If someone is specific about wanting an extra dry martini, most restaurants and bars won’t even put any vermouth in at all. Martinis these days are made with very little vermouth to begin with!

-When someone orders a martini they will generally tell you which type of vodka (for example Stoli, Kettle One, Grey Goose, etc,) or Gin that they want (Beefeater, Bombay, Tanqueray, Hendricks, etc,). It is your responsibility as a waiter or bartender to know and recognize the brands.

For example, you may hear an order like this:
“I’ll have a Tanqueray martini, straight up, with olives. And can you put the rocks on the side?”
This means they want a Tanqueray gin martini, served in a martini glass with the ice (rocks) strained out, olives as a garnish and the leftover ice in a “rocks” glass on the side.


“I’ll have a Kettle One martini, on the rocks, with a twist.” This means they want a Kettle One vodka martini, served on the rocks in a rocks glass, with a twist garnish.