We’re a fortnight away from the start of the holiday cocktail party circuit and I reckon it’s time to get in shape. That means putting aside the youthful playthings of summer (beer, rosé, speedboats) and getting back to drinking basics. And there is nothing more basic or more perfect for parties than a properly made martini. Not a chocolate martini (there’s no such thing), not a Midori martini (there’s no such thing), not even a vodka martini (there is such a thing, but there shouldn’t be). I speak of that deceptively simple blend: six parts gin, one part vermouth. Garnish with three gin-soaked olives or, if you prefer, a lemon twist—but never both. When made properly, the martini is an elemental wonder that doesn’t taste like any other drink. From the first bracing sip, it lets you know that it’s time to, in the words of Kool & the Gang, “Celebrate good times.”

6 parts gin
1 part vermouth
3 olives

Pour the gin (Martin Miller is my current fave), vermouth (Martini and Rossi is fine), and olives into a shaker. Shake and strain into—what else?—a martini glass. Thus endeth the lesson.




Want to get the perfect cocktail each time? Try these other recipes:

Zombie: Feeling particularly pyromaniacal? Do it with a Zombie–and lots of rum

Sazerac: An easy recipe for a sexy Sazerac

Whiskey Sour: It was once the go-to drink for hardened P.I.s and washed-up boxers

Pimm’s Cup: How to indulge in this quintessential English cocktail