Martini Basics for Beginner Bartenders or Servers

Updated on December 26, 2019
bpotter profile image

I'm a lover of fine food and a restaurant manager who enjoys writing about the industry.

Learn how to properly prepare a martini.
Learn how to properly prepare a martini. | Source

What is a Martini?

The traditional martini is a blended cocktail of gin or vodka and vermouth. This article will give you the basics for how to understand what the customer is ordering and how to prepare their martini.

Straight up with a twist.
Straight up with a twist.

Breaking It Down...

  • 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.

Note: Liquor in a restaurant or bar falls into different categories based on price. The cheapest is called well liquor, which gets its name from its location in a bar. Every bar has at least one row of liquor that is easily accessible to the bartender (and not on display, unlike the more expensive liquors which are set out in displayed rows on top of the bar). These are called wells. The liquor in them is always the cheap stuff, and it’s what they use to make a drink unless the customer ups their order by choosing a brand name liquor. In most restaurants/bars, liquors fall into three tiers: well, call and premium. We already covered “well.” “Call” is the middle ground, meaning that a customer has specified what liquor they want (i.e not well liquor) but it isn’t the most expensive (or top shelf). “Premium” (aka top shelf) liquor = the most expensive.

When Someone Orders a Martini You Need to Know…

Vodka or gin? What type?

Straight up or on the rocks?

Twist or olives?

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.

Martini Recipe

Some say that a martini is made of a 5 to 1 ratio: 5 parts gin or vodka and 1 part vermouth. But, as mentioned above, most restaurants/bars these days use very little vermouth...a splash is the best way to describe it. You’ll have to adjust the amounts of gin or vodka depending on the size of your restaurant or bar's martini glass, which vary greatly! Basically, you're looking to fill the martini glass to whatever level your bar dictates with chilled vodka or gin and a smidge of vermouth! No recipe needed...

Making a Martini

First take the martini glass and fill it with ice, then top it with soda water. This will chill the glass quickly.

Second fill a cocktail shaker with ice. (In some bars the cocktail shaker is a large metal mixing glass that the bartender tops with an upside down draft glass to use as a lid for shaking. In other places they use cocktail shakers with specially fitted lids that have strainers built in).

Pour in the vodka or gin and vermouth (if required). Shake to mix. (Some people stir to mix, which is fine, but generally the accepted method is shaking). Add olive juice if the customer requests a dirty martini. You'll be able to tell once the drink is in the martini glass if you need to add more olive juice. Start on the conservative side -- you can always add more.

Dump the ice/soda water mix from the martini glass. Put in your olives or twist, depending on the customer's request. Strain the martini through either the lid provided with the shaker or a strainer (depending on what system your bar uses) into the martini glass.

You're ready to serve your martini!

Martini with olives, rocks on the side
Martini with olives, rocks on the side


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Old Mr. Boston says (if I remember right) 3 parts gin to 1 part vermouth. David Embury (The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks) says 7 to 1. I prefer 7 to 0, with no vermouth, technically not a martini. I'm good with that.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Please do not ever shake gin with ice. If it's a vodka martini feel free to shake away, but with gin you absolutely must stir.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Whoa, a very informative article until I get to the part "generally the accepted method is shaking." You people know that the only acceptable method to fix spirit on spirit cocktails is by stirring, come on now.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      As a martini lover, this is one of the best pages I've seen on this subject. My local Italian restaurant makes a spicy rendition using jalapeno vodka that's over the moon!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks so much for the clarification. I had like the vermouth and they always throw it out. Now I understand.

    • janices7 profile image

      Janice S 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing the ratios for the perfect easy martini!

    • bpotter profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Rob - Thank you! I'll be sure to check out your hubs! I appreciate you passing the article along...

    • rob_allen profile image


      8 years ago from MNL, PH

      wow, i love it. This is a good read for those people who wants to party for less. Bartending 101 begins in mixing simple drinks like martinis and punches. i have been writing hubs about cocktails that you might wanna check out. Thank you for this wonderful article. Imma share it to my friends as well :))


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)