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Embracing the Wet Martini


Eric Twardzik

When’s the last time you witnessed a character in a film, TV series or novel order a Wet Martini? We’ll give you time to think, but the most likely answer is “never.”

The Dry Martini, we’ve been told, is the mark of a serious, sophisticated drinker. Meanwhile, the Wet Martini indicates… Well, we’re not exactly sure what. 

Which is a shame. Because the Wet Martini—generally categorized as any Martini that falls into the 2 parts gin to 1 part vermouth ratio, or wetter—is a fabulous drink.

Wet Martinis provide that same clean, bracing snap that so wonderfully cuts through red meat or rich sauces, but dials back the juniper factor so that you get the tip of the spear rather than a full broadside. It also invites vermouth to be a full partner in the production rather than just a diluting agent, creating something more complex in the process.

As it’s still made exclusively with spirits, even a 1:1 Wet Martini is no lightweight—but compared to a tall coupe glass filled with cold gin and little else, it might as well be low-ABV. This means you can throw back two before the main course arrives and still remain in seafaring condition, whereas the same amount of Dry Martini consumption could have you face-down before dessert. 

Naturally, any Martini willing to share center stage with vermouth deserves the best. I’m partial to Dolin Dry, a classic French vermouth made by macerating 15 botanicals in Ugni Blanc. It’s clean, sharp and citrusy, with a touch of bitterness from Alpine herbs.

On the other hand, the gin you choose should be able to handle itself in a glass full of vermouth. My recommendation is Monkey 47, a German gin that’s made in the London Dry-style but incorporates a powerful bouquet of botanicals, including lingonberries from the Black Forest. 

Lastly, the Wet Martini is already breaking conventions—so why not bust one more? I advocate for one to two dashes of orange bitters in a Wet Marini, which help accentuate the floral and citrus aspects in the vermouth. Speaking of citrus, an expression of lemon oil on top—plus a lemon twist to garnish—never hurts.

For the purpose of the recipe below, I’ve dialed the ratio down to equal parts. But if you’re just dipping your toes into the Wet Martini section, feel free to keep it 2:1.

Wet Martini

1½ ounces Monkey 47 Gin

1½ ounces Dolin Dry Vermouth

1-2 dashes orange bitters

Lemon peel for expression

Lemon twist for garnish

Add gin, vermouth and bitters to a stirring glass filled with ice. Stir for 30 seconds and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Hold a lemon peel over the surface of the drink with its skin facing down and give it a quick pinch to release the oils; afterward, run it over the rim of the glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and serve. 

Eric Twardzik is a Boston-based freelance writer interested in classic clothing and cocktails. His writing has appeared online at Robb Report, InsideHook and Vice. 

October 29, 2020

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