If you think that finding a favorite gin is all that’s required to nail down your perfect martini, think again. Choosing the correct vermouth makes just as much of a difference. Intelligently matching your gin with your vermouth is what will take your libation from ordinary to show-stopping.
While any gin theoretically works with any vermouth, you’ll be far better served by finding strategic alliances between the pair. Think about the taste difference in gins ranging from Tanqueray to Hendrick’s to Bluecoat. Why would all vermouths work equally as well with that diverse and divergent selection of gins?
PERSONALIZE YOUR MARTINI
It all comes down to personal preference, but keep in mind a few key gin and vermouth pairing points. If you’d like to really accentuate or showcase the flavor of the gin itself, you may want a gentler vermouth. The same can be applied in reverse. Looking to revel in the quality of your favorite vermouth? A milder gin can do its work in the background of your cocktail as opposed to stealing the spotlight.
Finding a gin and vermouth that share a few similar flavor notes helps to accentuate the best of both worlds. A common thread, like orange peels or a spicy flourish in both the gin and vermouth allows your drink to blend seamlessly. If you pick a bold expression of each without a common denominator, your Martini may spiral to the point of no return, as the ingredients clash for control.
With the above in mind, here are a few bartender-approved recommendations to get you started in the right direction.
Sipsmith Gin with Miró Dry Vermouth
“Sipsmith is a really great gin to make martinis with because it achieves a fine balance between being dry and yet having a beautiful aromatic quality,” says Cari Hah of Big Bar in Los Angeles. “You can take it in either direction in cocktails, sweet or savory, without the gin tripping over the flavor profile. Miró Dry Vermouth has the lowest sugar content of all dry vermouths and is therefore my perfect choice for martinis.”
In other words, Sipsmith stars and Miró helps it shine. “A martini made with Sipsmith and Miró Dry Vermouth is the most delicious cocktail, as the extreme dryness of the Miró goes so well with the floral, yet dry, aromatics in Sipsmith,” Hah says.
For a touch of saltiness without going full dirty, Hah adds in a few drops of Dirty Sue Olive Juice. “I love to use salt in cocktails the same way you would put a pinch of salt when baking even sweet things because it makes flavors pop and bright,” Hah says. “It’s a very lovely addition to an already silky, beautiful martini.”
Mix 2 ounces of Sipsmith with 1 ounce of Miró Dry Vermouth and 3 drops of Dirty Sue. Stir with ice, strain, and serve with an expressed lemon peel and Castelvetrano olive.
Conncullin Gin with Carpano Bianco Vermouth
“Conncullin Gin is a classic gin waiting to pair perfectly with the right vermouth,” says Brendan Dorr, proprietor of the forthcoming Baltimore gin bar Dutch Courage, and president of the Baltimore Bartenders’ Guild. “Carpano Bianco with its exotic perfume, citrus notes and hints of almond blends harmoniously together for a delightful cocktail.”
That gin and vermouth pairing, plus a lemon peel garnish, should be enough to see your way to a wonderful martini at home. Behind the bar, Dorr adds in a few more finishing touches which help to dry the cocktail a bit and play with the nutty flavors. These additions complement the base ingredients and add an extra depth of flavor.
His Éire Martini uses 2 ounces of Conncullin with .75 ounce Carpano Bianco, .25 oz Tabacal Rancio Sec, and 2 dashes of orange bitters. Stir with ice and strain into your glass.
Mulholland Gin with Vya Extra Dry Vermouth
“Mulholland Gin brims with a bright cucumber and juniper bouquet, but that’s just the beginning,” says Mulholland’s brand manager Coleen Morton. “An intense burst of lime follows as the glass touches your lips and then a complex mix of our lavender florals appear. The juniper rounds out the palate before citrus and vanilla come roaring back.”
In Vya, Morton seeks out a floral profile to complement the gin, finding botanicals including lavender and sage atop a base of orange Muscat wine. She opts for a straightforward two-to-one gin martini garnished with a lemon twist.
“Smells of fresh citrus and slight floral notes, with vibrant cucumber on the palate, and complex with a slightly sweet but clean finish,” Morton says. A very approachable martini for just about everyone.”
Ready to try your hand at gin and vermouth pairing?