11 of the Best Martini Recipes for ‘Dry’ January

Ah, Dry January. For some it’s a welcome ritual after riding a months-long wave of holiday cheer, while others may shudder at the thought of abandoning their happy hours and nightcaps for a full calendar month. Some people even find a happy medium between the two extremes in a slightly boozy Damp January.

If you fall into either of the latter two categories, that means cocktails may still be on the menu. So if you fancy yourself a bit of a Martini aficionado, consider whipping up some tasty dry Martinis to get you through the first few weeks of the year. While Martinis are arguably the most high-alcohol cocktail you can have, they’re also some of the most elegant and thoughtful to prepare — and isn’t this month all about intention?

From split-base creations to Hollywood-born heavy hitters, here are 11 of the best Martini recipes for a different kind of Dry January.

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The Gin Martini

The Gin Martini is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

When it comes to a dry Martini, it’s difficult to think of one more classic than the Gin Martini. Despite the fact that vodka is America’s most popular spirit, the oldest Martini recipes from Italy and the U.S. both call for gin and a hit of dry vermouth. The best aspect of the Gin Martini is its customizable nature: For an even drier build, reduce (or even nix) the vermouth you’re pouring in your mixing glass. Garnish with your choice of olives or a lemon twist and enjoy.

The Vodka Martini

The Vodka Martini is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

While super-old-school recipes may call for gin, the Vodka Martini has become equally as classic. Similarly to its gin-based sibling, the Vodka Martini adds dry vermouth to its base spirit and is able to be adjusted depending on how wet or dry you prefer the profile to be. And if you’ve got any infused vodka steeping on your bar cart, now’s the time to put it to the test.

The Dirty Martini

The Dirty Martini is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

Savory Martinis of all spices and sizes were hot this past year, though this bonafide classic remains a highly sophisticated choice. While traditionally made with gin, the Dirty Martini can be stirred up with vodka as well, with the latter preferred by many bartenders for its more neutral profile. To make your own, simply combine your spirit of choice, dry vermouth, and your favorite olive brine. Feel free to nix the vermouth entirely and up the ante on the brine to make a Filthy Martini.

The 50/50 Martini

The 50/50 Martini is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

First recorded in the 1888 edition of legendary bartender Harry Johnson’s “New and Improved Bartender’s Manual,” the 50/50 Martini is wetter than most of its peers, which means it’s a prime candidate for Damp January drinking. Consisting of equal parts gin and vermouth and a single dash of orange bitters, the 50/50 Martini is floral and slightly sweet yet still crisp, as all the best Martinis are.

The Vesper

The Vesper is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

Created by prolific author Ian Fleming and popularized by his super spy protagonist James Bond, the Vesper offers the best of both worlds for those who have a tough time choosing between gin and vodka. While vermouth may be a mainstay in most Martini specs, the Vesper swaps out the aromatized wine in favor of Lillet, which brings a layer of sweetness to the cocktail and beautifully complements the botanicals in the gin.

The Michael

The Michael is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

If your new year’s resolution is to drink more Martinis but you’re not quite ready to abandon sweetness altogether, the Michael may be an ideal starting place. Created by mixologist Daniel Yang, the Michael fuses a gin base with Aperol and blanc vermouth, which is considerably sweeter than its dry counterpart. With a single dash of orange bitters in the mix, the cocktail takes on a citrus-forward profile undercut with delicate herbal notes and a slight bitterness to counteract the semi-saccharine backbone.

The Flame of Love

The Flame of Love is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

With origins steeped in Hollywood, the Flame of Love is a sherry-soaked Martini variation with a glitzy garnish suitable for any movie star — or at-home mixologist. It was first stirred up in 1970 for Dean Martin at Beverly Hills’ iconic and now shuttered restaurant Chasen’s. Bartender Pepe Ruiz overheard the singer complaining about the mundanity of Martinis, so Ruiz switched things up: After rinsing a glass with sherry and setting expressed orange oils ablaze over it, he added chilled vodka and garnished the drink with a flamed orange peel. The resulting cocktail is bone-dry, but still maintains a nutty complexity from the sherry and a citrusy edge.

The Gibson

The Gibson is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

If you regularly stick to a Dirty Martini but you’re looking to swap out your go-to for something new, consider the Gibson. Rather than a lemon twist or an olive, the Gibson calls for a garnish of skewered cocktail onions, which provides a pickled, savory, and earthy undertone to the dry drink.

The Alaska

The Alaska is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

Though the Alaska was first recorded in Jacques Straub’s 1913 cocktail book “Straub’s Manual of Mixed Drinks,” the Alaska is thought to have been whipped up over 50 years earlier given its ingredients. Straub’s build combines gin — specifically Old Tom, which was exceedingly popular in the 1860s — and Yellow Chartreuse, which hit markets in 1840. Once the spirits are fused, the mixture takes on a golden hue, which likely inspired the cocktail’s name following the territory’s Gold Rush in 1896. Finished with one dash of orange bitters, the Alaska is floral, minty, and herbal.

The Tuxedo No. 2

The Tuxedo No. 2 is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

For those seeking more complexity than the standard Dry Gin Martini offers, the Tuxedo No. 2 offers a playful departure: The build begins with an absinthe rinse and a gin base, then follows them up with Maraschino liqueur, orange bitters, and dry vermouth. The rinse’s licorice-rich influence adds a sophisticated twist to the cocktail’s tart cherry and herbal notes.

The Mezcal Martini

The Mezcal Martini is one of the best Martini cocktail recipes.

At-home Martinis are best served fresh from the freezer door, and that method isn’t solely reserved for clear spirits. Consisting of equal parts tequila, mezcal, bianco vermouth, and distilled water, mixologist Jay Khan’s Mezcal Martini is vegetal, grassy, and smoky — plus it’s perfect for batching. Simply combine 25 milliliters of each ingredient and stick the mixture in your freezer for a rainy day. Before serving, garnish with a pickled jalapeño for a spicy and savory kick.

*Image retrieved from N.Van Doninck via stock.adobe.com