It’s the drink associated with the roaring twenties, and it’s one of the most famous – if not the most famous – cocktails of all time. H. L. Mencken once declared the martini “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.”
In this article we’ll be reviewing the best gin for making a perfect martini, proving you don’t need any bartending experience, just good quality gin to make a professional-standard martini.
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The Importance of Gin
Gin is the most important ingredient in this timeless cocktail – however, all gins are not created equal, and any mixologist knows this.
The gin you choose for your martini can make all the difference to the final outcome of your drink.
The Best Gin for Making a Martini
- Bombay Sapphire
- Gordon’s Gin
- New Amsterdam Gin
Beefeater London Dry
ABV: Re-launched in 2020 at 44% ABV for the U.S. market.
Tasting notes: juniper, citrus, angelica, licorice
While Beefeater Gin may be dismissed by younger gin connoisseurs, this is a classic London Dry Gin that has a straightforward yet bold juniper taste that packs a punch, even at its recently altered ABV of 44%.
Beefeater gin has notes of pine-forward juniper with hints of Seville orange, angelica, and a touch of licorice. The palet starts with mild lemon and builds into a strong and assertive, but not overpowering, pine-forward juniper heart.
There’s also a hint of spice with notes of gentle coriander, licorice root, and subtle bitter orange.
While some reviewers have mixed feelings about Beefeater’s newly revised lower alcohol content, one way of looking at it is that it makes the martini more accessible for those who don’t want an overpowering gin element to their drink.
Tasting notes: juniper, citrus, hints of spice, floral notes
One of the most famous gins in the world, Bombay Sapphire was first established in 1986 by an English wine merchant.
It owes its complex flavor to its vapor infusion process and its original 1830s Carterhead stills as well as two state-of-the-art 12,000 liter copper pot stills.
Bombay Sapphire has a strong citrus nose with dominating acidic lemon notes among the juniper. It has a clean, crisp taste, with a subtle sweetness and distinct floral, fruity character in the background.
While it’s a traditional London dry gin, it’s set apart from other gins by its strong aroma, and the Bombay Sapphire really shines when used in a martini.
It adds a perfect degree of balance to the cocktail, providing a hint of juniper without going overboard.
Tasting notes: Juniper, citrus, baking spices
Tanqueray is one of the most popular gins in the world, and if you order a cocktail at a bar, chances are they’ll be using Tanqueray.
Developed over 180 years ago in Bloomsbury, London, Tanqueray is a London dry gin that uses an expertly crafted recipe that blends the four distinct botanicals of juniper, coriander, angelica, and licorice to create a perfectly balanced spirit that stands up tall alongside dry vermouth.
Tanqueray has a distinctive juniper-forward profile that is unlike any other gin, with botanical hints that imitate citrus zest, candied angelica stalk, and licorice.
The palate begins with juniper, but you’ll detect rich hints of baking spices such as angelica root, cinnamon, and coriander seed by the end. The finish is long and provides warmth and a little heat, perfect for a martini.
Tasting notes: Juniper, coriander, angelica, licorice
Having been produced since 1769, Gordon’s gin has been around for quite a while and has certainly earned its place as one of the most famous and most popular gins on the market.
Made with the finest handpicked juniper berries and a selection of other botanicals, this London dry gin is carefully distilled using a secret recipe.
While its origins may be British, the gin is now produced all over the world, from Scotland to Canada, and it will usually feature juniper (of course), coriander, and angelica, with the occasional addition of licorice, orris, orange, and lemon peel, though the exact bill is a secret.
Gordon’s gin has a nose that’s heavy with pine-laden juniper, along with a peppery undertone thanks to the hints of coriander. There’s also a hint of citrus and maybe even menthol.
Its palate is bright and juniper-forward, with zesty coriander and lemon. Gordon’s is often dismissed as a one-note gin, but there’s certainly more to it than meets the eye, or the taste buds.
Tasting notes: citrus, orange, vanilla
If you’re somebody who likes a martini with a citrus twang, you’ll love this New Amsterdam gin.
It’s considered a ‘modern’ gin, which refers to gins that deviate from the classic London dry style, placing more emphasis on citrus notes rather than the classic juniper.
New Amsterdam Gin has a distinct citrus-forward profile characterized by light lemon and sweet candied orange, with herbaceous juniper detectable at the fringes and a slight hint of vanilla The finish is short to moderate in length, consisting mainly of citrus which does tend to dominate the other flavors.
Perfect for citrus gin lovers, but not those who prefer a more classic dry gin for their martini.
Tasting notes: floral rose and cucumber, juniper, citrus,
Hendrick’s has a pretty distinctive taste – this isn’t just any old gin. While it has strong notes of juniper, there’s also a sweet and musky hint of rose that lightens it as well as sweet orange, lime zest and a hint of elderflower.
It has a very complex palate, with notes of angelica, coriander, juniper, and orris root accord, as well as zesty citrus mid-palate and a subtle candy-like sweetness. Late palate there’s a definite hint of black pepper.
There’s a fairly long finish that is juniper-forward and has notes of soaked rose petal, lime, and Persian cucumbers.
You might be surprised to hear it, but Hendrick’s works really well in a dirty martini. The olive brine perfectly compliments Hendrick’s juniper, citrus, floral, and cucumber notes.
Preparation of the Martini
The martini is made with gin and vermouth and is garnished with an olive or a lemon twist.
By 1922, the Martini reached its most recognizable form of a 2:1 ratio of London dry gin and dry vermouth, stirred in a mixing glass with ice cubes, with the optional addition of orange or aromatic bitters, then strained into a chilled cocktail glass.
The expected garnish became the drinker’s choice of a green olive or a twist of lemon peel.
A dry martini is made with little to no vermouth, and is called “dry” because it is lacking an ingredient, as a standard martini calls for dry vermouth. If an “extra dry” martini is ordered, it will result in even less or no vermouth being added.