The Story Behind The Vodka Martini
“There are already too many rules to remember in life, so your Martini shouldn’t come with a set of instructions as well.” It’s a somewhat surprising, but refreshing perspective coming from Alessandro Palazzi, head bartender at Dukes Hotel, a London cocktail institution. This intimate bar is tucked away off a London side street with a slight air of exclusivity, and a “smart casual” dress code. However, as you sink comfortably into your lounge chair, Palazzi and his staff are quick to make you feel right at home.
Palazzi is a charming Italian gentleman who has been working in bars all his life, and he has certainly mastered the art of the Martini. Customers visit Dukes Hotel both for the exceptional level of hospitality and for the exquisitely prepared Martinis, crafted table-side on an elegant bar cart. Although he, and many bartenders and enthusiasts alike, hold strong opinions on what makes a true Martini, Palazzi will not turn up his nose if you prefer your beverage a different way — like, say, with vodka instead of the traditional gin.
“If you want to shake it, go right ahead! If you prefer it with a splash of bitters and a twist of Amalfi lemon, then enjoy,” says Palazzi. “Many of these variations may not fit the mold of what’s classically thought to be a Martini, but if you love it a certain way, that’s what makes it the most memorable and perfect drink of all.”
The Best Martini Ingredients:
- Need the right vodka? See our picks for the best vodkas for Martinis!
- Need the right vermouth? See our picks for the best dry vermouth for Martinis!
Not a vodka drinker? Here's our gin Martini recipe.
- 2 ½ ounces vodka
- ½ ounce dry vermouth
- Lemon twist
- Combine vodka and vermouth in a mixing glass.
- Stir with ice until chilled.
- Strain into a chilled coupe or Martini glass.
- Gently express a lemon peel over the top of the drink, then garnish with the lemon zest.
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Listen To Our Cocktail College Vodka Martini Podcast
Vodka Martini Variations To Try:
- Gin Martini - The original recipe for the Martini, one of the world's greatest cocktails, calls for Gin. Even if James Bond said otherwise.
- Dirty Martini - Either loved or hated, the Dirty Martini is one of cocktail culture’s most polarizing drinks. Some believes the concept was born in the Waldorf Astoria.
- Espresso Martini - This iconic modern classic was created in 1983 by London bartender Dick Bradsell at the Soho Brasserie for a guest — supposedly a model.
- Apple Martini - The Apple Martini, also known as the “Appletini,” is a bright green drink that defines the neon style of the ‘90s.
- Vesper - True cocktail pros and Bond lovers alike also know about the Vesper, Ian Fleming's gin and vodka combining Martini riff.
- L’Orange Martini - For those who love oranges, look no further. This drink takes all of the best parts of a Martini and adds plenty of citrus flair. Orange liqueur, orange bitters, and an orange twist result in a lively (and boozy) Martini.