Martini Book

201 Ways to Mix the Perfect American Cocktail


By Sally Ann Berk

Photographs by Zeva Oelbaum

Formats and Prices




$12.99 CAD




ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 1, 2007. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The Martini Book includes dozens of delicious new recipes and even more useful information on creating flawless versions of our most popular and enduring cocktail.BR />
It’s classic, sublime, and America’s favorite indulgence? the martini. As the symbol for sophistication and “cool,” it stands alone. The traditional “dry martini,” made with gin and a hint of vermouth, may be the starting point but The Martini Book takes it to the next level, offering hundreds of modern twists in addition to the tried and true original.

Make no mistake, the classic versions of the drink are here, complete with tips for making them perfectly every time. But for those who are more adventurous or looking to expand their drink repertoire, new recipes include the Flirtini, the GreenTeani, the Frosty Mango Martini, the Ginger Snap Martini, and many, many more. There is also practical information on stirring and shaking, a list of essential bar tools (including glassware), and a list of must-have ingredients for any home bar. The beautiful full-color photographs provide inspiration and a guide to making drinks that are as beautiful as they are satisfying.


“A well-made martini … correctly chilled and nicely served, has been more often my true friend than any two-legged creature.”



Icy cold, clear, and quintessentially American, the martini has come to stand for sophistication and elegance, luxury spiked with a dash of daring. Born and bred in the United States, it is now famous the world over, its renown bolstered in no small part by the devotion of well-known characters both fictional and factual. Sometimes called a “silver bullet,” the martini is clean and smooth, and always hits its mark.

Presidents and movie stars, journalists and poets, fictional characters and their creators have all looked to the martini for inspiration. No other cocktail engenders the kind of passion true martini purists exhibit when mixing or defending their unique take on the drink. And no other cocktail has such a complicated folklore.

The origin of the martini has been the subject of much debate. It was invented sometime during the latter part of the nineteenth century, but beyond that one probable fact, the stories of its origin diverge. One theory places the martini in the San Francisco Bay area after the Gold Rush. Another places it, again during the Gold Rush era, in Martinez, California, thus the name. Still another theory credits the bartender at the Hoffman House in New York around 1880. A fourth story attributes the martini to an Italian immigrant named Martini di Arma di Taggia, who tended bar at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York in the early part of the twentieth century. And yet another tale claims the martini was first conceived in the Netherlands.

There is no doubt that gin was developed in the Netherlands, but not the martini. Too much evidence points to America as its birth-place. New Yorkers usually adhere to the Hoffman House theory, while West Coasters prefer the San Francisco theory—everyone wants to lay claim to this iconic cocktail.

But why and how did this drink become a cultural icon? Why not the Rob Roy? The Rusty Nail? The Manhattan?

All of these drinks have their place among the pantheon of classic cocktails, but the martini has long been the favorite of jet-setters, politicians, rainmakers, and other high-profile people. From this prime position it has captured the fancy and the taste of the general public, and—except for a lapse during the 1970s—the martini has remained the quintessential cocktail ever since.

Perhaps the classic martini owes its status to its simplicity—the blessed marriage of cold gin and vermouth, accompanied by nothing more than a Spanish olive and a cocktail napkin. Or perhaps the contemporary martini is popular because of its versatility—today the cocktail is a model of constant creation and reinvention. Beginning first with the vodka martini, which quickly gathered a zealous following, the cocktail canon now includes a multitude of sweet and savory ‘tinis, some laced with fruit or herb essences, others with cloudy olive brine or decadent liqueurs. But maybe it’s just that creating a martini is almost alchemic: from some basic elements, one can create gold—or the cocktail equivalent.

| Did You Know?

Sweet vermouth, or rosso, is a reddish vermouth used in Manhattans. Early recipes for martinis also used sweet vermouth.


A martini is one of life’s little pleasures, as much to sip and savor as to shake (or stir) and pour. To set up your own martini bar, you need only some simple ingredients and some essential, but readily available, equipment. (If you plan to make some of the more inventive martinis in this book—and we think you should—you can purchase the additional ingredients as needed; you will most likely have any additional equipment called for in your kitchen already.)

| Did You Know?

It is widely believed that one of contenders for the “original” martini, the Martinez Cocktail, was created with Old Tom gin.


For a classic silver bullet martini, you simply need to choose your poison—gin or vodka—and add dry vermouth and olives. For the more complex concoctions, you’ll want to stock up on flavored vodkas, juices, garnishes, and liqueurs. Here’s a rundown of the basics and not so basics.


Gin comes to us from the Netherlands, where it was called genievre, which means “juniper.” It is a clear liquor, distilled from grain and flavored with juniper berries.

There are three kinds of gin available today—Genever, Old Tom, and London Dry. Genever is the original Dutch formula. It is a highly flavored gin and is not usually used in martinis. Old Tom, a nondry gin, is created when barley malt or sweetener is added to dry gin. It is not readily available, but its cousin, Pimm’s Cup, is still served as a cocktail.

The gin most people know is London Dry. This is the gin served in bars and found in liquor stores the world over. All spirits are distilled once, but the craft of gin making is exemplified during the second distillation. A gin smith creates a fine dry gin in the redistillation of the liquor. During this second distillation, flavorings are added. It is not unusual to find citrus peels, herbs, and spices added during the second distillation. Without them, gin—deliciously, delicately fruity, and herbaceous—would not exist.

The Secret Life of Gin

Popular myth holds that gin was first invented as a blood cleanser by a seventeenth-century chemist. After its invention, the flavorful liquor’s popularity grew throughout Europe and spread to the Colonies. Dickens wrote about gin shops and Hogarth painted them. Henry Hudson brought it with him on his expeditions to the New World. Gin was easy to make because it required no aging. This is why gin became immensely popular during Prohibition—you could distill it anywhere.

While one can use almost any kind of vodka, high quality or poor, to make a good vodka martini, the quality, taste, and smoothness of different gins can make or break the drink. Gin is very easy to manufacture, which means that you really get what you pay for; some gins are excellent, and others would do better as paint thinners. You should invest in the very best gin you can afford.

Although quality, or “premium,” gins vary greatly in flavor and smoothness, there really is no absolute “best”—it’s all a matter of personal preference. To figure out which gin(s) to purchase, we recommend bellying up to your favorite bar and tasting a few to see which you like. Some suggestions:

  • Beefeater
  • Bombay
  • Bombay Sapphire
  • Gordon’s
  • Hendricks
  • Kensington
  • Old Raj
  • Tanqueray

Vodka is a Russian word meaning “little water.” It has its origins in Russia but is produced worldwide. It was originally made from distilling potatoes, but can be, and is, made from any grain. It is a neutral spirit, which means it must be flavorless by law. It is not aged.

Many purists consider the vodka martini a bastardization of a fine drink. Others consider it a legitimate variation and believe it has its rightful place in the martini pantheon. Even though vodka martinis did not become popular until the 1960s, vodka is an essential ingredient in the martini popularized by James Bond, and many of the new martini incarnations (a large number of which you’ll find in this book) cannot be made without it.

Many people will argue that more expensive vodka tastes better or is smoother. However, vodka shouldn’t have a flavor to begin with unless it is flavored vodka. The only way to resolve this argument is to buy a bottle of bargain vodka and a bottle of premium vodka, remove the labels, and chill them to near freezing. Sip one, then the other, and see if you can tell the difference. Some people will argue that you can’t, but of course, others will tell you that you can—that Ketel One is better than Stoli, and Grey Goose is the best. In the end, it’s up to you.

As with gin, when you invest in a vodka, use your personal preferences for flavor (if you can detect one), burn (the sensation the vodka leaves in your mouth and throat), and texture (Is it smooth? Slightly oily? Which do you prefer?). Some high-quality options include:

  • Absolut (distilled from wheat)
  • Armadale (distilled from wheat and barley)
  • Belvedere (distilled from rye)
  • Chopin (distilled from potatoes)
  • Cîroc (distilled from grapes)
  • Grey Goose (distilled from wheat, barley, and rye)
  • Ketel One (distilled from wheat)
  • Smirnoff (distilled from grains)
  • Stolichnaya (distilled from wheat)
  • Zyr (distilled from wheat and rye)

Flavored vodkas have become increasingly popular in the past twenty years or so—both in the more elaborate ‘tinis that feature them, as well as straight up or splashed with soda. The modern martini mixer makes use of everything from commercial citrus-flavored vodkas to homemade flavored vodkas spiked with coffee beans or hot peppers. You should include as many flavored vodkas as possible when creating your martini bar. If you don’t find one you need, you can always make your own. (The best pepper vodka is homemade.) Simply take the flavoring you desire—a hot pepper, say, or a vanilla bean—and soak it in a bottle of plain vodka for at least a week. Taste the vodka. If it needs more oomph, soak the flavoring for a few more days. When the vodka is flavored the way you want it, strain it into a clean bottle.

Some commercially made (or homemade) flavors to consider include cranberry, currant, lemon, orange, peach, pepper, raspberry, strawberry, and vanilla.

Flavored gin is available from some distillers, but we don’t recommend it—gin is flavorful enough as it is. A number of recipes in this book also call for scotch, whiskey, and rum, and any good home bar will include these other spirits on its shelves. Remember, quality counts. Be sure to spring for the finest you can afford.

The Deep Freeze

Gin or vodka, a splash of vermouth or none—there’s one thing all martinis must be, and that’s cold. Whether you prefer your martini unadulterated or infused with a multitude of flavors, you’ll want it to be as cold as possible.

Some bartenders recommend shaking or stirring the cocktail over ice until the shaker is frigid and glistening with frost; others say that the liquor must be chilled for at least six hours (or given a permanent home in the freezer) to ensure the perfect temperature (and to obviate the need for ice, which can dilute the liquor). Choose whichever method you wish—just make sure that martini is chilly.

Stir It Up

Simple syrup is indeed simple to make: combine two parts granulated sugar with one part boiling water, stirring until the sugar dissolves completely. Bottle the concoction, and keep it on hand to sweeten any variety of drinks, from martinis to iced tea.

Vermouth is a key ingredient in the classic martinis, whether vodka or gin based. It is a fortified wine that has been flavored with various herbs and spices.

The word “vermouth” comes from the German word wermut, which means “wormwood.” Before wormwood was discovered to be poisonous, it was used in making vermouth (and its notorious relative, absinthe). The martini is made with white dry vermouth, also known as French vermouth, a white liquid that can also be drunk as a cocktail. This should not be confused with bianco, an Italian version, which is also white but much sweeter.

Even though a dry martini uses practically no vermouth, it should be included. We recommend Martini Extra Dry (considered the “original” vermouth), which is made in Italy, or Noilly Prat from France.


Mixers, for a martini? Well, for the classic silver bullet you’d want nothing more than some very dry vermouth (see above)—and even that might be too much of a dilution. But for the sweet and sassy cocktails that turn the whole concept of the martini on its head, you’ll want to have some juices, liqueurs, and other mixers on hand (you may need to purchase additional items depending on the drinks you’re mixing):

JUICE: apple, cranberry, grapefruit, orange, pineapple, pomegranate, Rose’s lime juice

LIQUEURS: amaretto, Angostura or orange bitters, chocolate liqueur, coffee liqueur, crème de cassis, curaçao, triple sec, schnapps (apple, berry, cinnamon, peach, sour apple, sour berry, sour cherry), Irish cream, Frangelico

SYRUPS: chocolate, ginger, honey, lychee, simple (see Stir It Up)


The quintessential garnish for a martini is a Spanish olive—a small green olive, sometimes stuffed with a pimento. (The less commonly used black olive makes it a Buckeye Martini.) But just as there are many martini options—pure and clean, fresh and fruity, green and herbaceous—so there are a great many garnishes to choose from. Give one of the following a go, or follow a whim of your own—if you think something might taste good with your martini, by all means, drop it in or prop it on the glass:

  • asparagus spears
  • black cherries on the stem
  • candied ginger
  • candy canes
  • chives
  • chocolate or white chocolate curls or kisses
  • cinnamon sticks
  • citrus twists or peels
  • cocktail onions
  • cocoa powder; superfine sugar; cinnamon sugar or vanilla sugar; coarse salt; iced tea, lemonade, or fruit punch drink mix (for the outer rim of the glass)
  • fresh berries (in the glass)
  • fresh fruit slices (banana, strawberry, pineapple, apple, pear, kiwi, etc.)
  • fresh herb sprigs
  • fresh organic blossoms
  • gum drops
  • jalapeño slices (fresh or pickled)
  • japanese “juicy” gummy candies
  • olives
    • almond-stuffed olives
    • black olives
    • blue cheese-stuffed olives
    • calamata olives
    • garlic-stuffed olives
    • herb-stuffed olives
    • pimento-stuffed green olives
    • wasabi-stuffed olives
  • pickled cherry tomato
  • pickled plum (umeboshi)
  • pomegranate seeds (in the glass)
  • red hot candies (in the glass)
  • rock candy on a stick
  • star anise pods
  • sugared flowers
  • swedish fish
  • vanilla beans
  • vegetables (slices of fresh beet, carrot, cucumber, heirloom tomato, zucchini)

Martini—The Drink of Presidents and Publicists

Since its invention, the martini has been the preferred cocktail of presidents and heads of state. FDR even carried a martini kit on international summits, and Gerald Ford thought the martini the exemplar of civilized life. Prize-winning writers have sung its praise, allowing themselves one (E.B. White) or several (William Faulkner) for fortification when facing the empty page.

Certainly not the sole territory of powerful men, Dorothy Parker enjoyed martinis as did and do many professional women.

Today the martini exemplifies both sophistication and celebration—it is the preferred cocktail of many professionals and is increasingly popular with the well-heeled nighttime bar crowd.



You will need a good stainless steel cocktail shaker with a strainer and a lid. Stainless steel will chill a drink quickly and uniformly (and won’t react with the ingredients in your drink, as other metals can). For those who prefer their martini stirred, not shaken, a good mixing glass and a long stainless steel stirring spoon are essential. Cocktail shakers and mixing glasses come in many designs and sizes. You can find anything from deco to modern or postmodern if you look hard enough. Choose a shaker and mixing glass that complement your glassware.



On Sale
May 1, 2007
Page Count
192 pages

Sally Ann Berk

About the Author

Sally Ann Berk is the author of The New York Bartender’s Guide, Smoothies, Shakes & Frappes, and Farmer’s Market Cooking, among others. She is the editor of Secrets of the Druids and A Reasonable Affliction: 1001 Love Poems to Read to Each Other. She lives in Northern California with her husband and son.

Learn more about this author

Zeva Oelbaum

About the Photographer

Zeva Oelbaum is a New York-based still life and food photographer. Her work can frequently be seen in The New York Times Magazine, House Beautiful, and many other magazines and books.

Learn more about this photographer