Martini Variations For Your Next High-Class Party

Martini Variations For Your Next High-Class Party - Country Wine & Spirits

Martini Variations For Your Next High-Class Party

The martini was once called “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet,” the classic martini has been a decades-old standard for a reason! From Winston Churchill to Humphrey Bogart to James Bond, classy folks have ordered this cocktail since the early 1900s. Originating in hotel bars, the first martini is thought to have been served in 1911.

The martini took off in popularity during the Prohibition era as a drink whose illicit ingredients could be made easily. Once alcohol was again made legal, this cocktail slowly became to be known as a drink for older drinkers, and trends passed it by. The most recent resurgence of popularity began in the 1990s and has continued since! Bartenders have schemed up some fantastic variations on the classic martini, like the appletini, peach martini, and espresso martini.

Part of the reason the standard martini became so classic is because of its simplicity. The main spirits are gin and dry vermouth, generally at a six to one ratio. You begin by pouring gin and vermouth into a mixing shaker with ice and stirred, and then strained into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with lemon peel or olive to your liking, and there you have it! Simple and elegant, a martini is a fantastic before-dinner drink to make for a stay-at-home date night. Variations on the standard martini may change up the proportions: a dry martini uses less vermouth, sometimes as little as just a swab on the glass. An upside-down martini reverses the formula to contain more vermouth than gin.

Other variations on the classic martini mix up the garnish. A dirty martini is a martini with an olive and a splash of the olive brine in the cocktail. A Gibson, named after famed artist Charles Dana Gibson, is prepared the same way as a standard martini but uses a pickled cocktail onion in place of an olive. A vodka martini is a simple variation, perhaps created out of a shortage of gin. Follow the same procedure for a martini but replace the gin with vodka, and there you have it! The famous “shaken, not stirred” preparation preferred by James Bond is a vodka martini, and when shaken, it becomes a cocktail called a Vesper.

When the martini came back into fashion, a big part of its return to trendiness was the design of the glass that martinis are famously served in. With a thin stem and a full, conical bowl, the martini glass is unmistakable. The design is an icon of the art deco style that was born in the 1920s, but it’s also functional design! The long stem allows you to enjoy a chilled beverage without the body heat from your hand heating the drink, and the wide bowl is thought to help its contents release the bouquet of aromas from the spirits.

Bee’s Knees

Many of today’s martini variants use the -tini at the end of the word for the name of the cocktail, but a personal favorite martini-style cocktail of mine is the Bee’s Knees. As I’m sure you can guess, the name of this one comes from the use of honey! This cocktail is also thought to have originated during the Prohibition era. It is said to have been popular because it masked the smell of the bathtub gin that was the only liquor commonly available. Thankfully, today you can use as fine of a gin as you like for this drink. Use a sloe or other fruity gin to mix it up even more!


  • 2 ounces Leopold’s American Small Batch Gin, or gin of your choice

  • 3/4 ounce honey syrup (equal parts honey water, heated until incorporated)

  • 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice

To put together a Bee’s Knees, all you have to do is measure out your ingredients, shake them in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and then strain into a glass. Garnish with lemon peel if you like and enjoy!


According to many bartenders, a Cosmopolitan is considered a martini-style cocktail. This cranberry-forward drink is another simple yet delicious preparation that’s perfect for serving at parties. While the first recipe that contained these ingredients dates back to the 30s, the Cosmo took off in popularity when it became the favorite drink of the cast of characters starring in “Sex and the City”. This cocktail works great with flavored vodka, too.



  • 1 1/2 ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka, or your vodka of choice. 

  • 1 ounce Cointreau orange liqueur, or other orange liqueur

  • 1/4 ounce cranberry juice

  • 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

Mix these ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, strain, and enjoy! Garnish with your preferred citrus peel.

Espresso Martini

For a more extravagant martini-style drink with a hit of caffeine, look to an espresso martini. This one requires a bit more work to create but will be worth the effort. An espresso martini is a great after-dinner drink that combines both a dessert and a pick-me-up!


  • 1 1/2 ounces Tito’s Handmade Vodka, or your vodka of choice. 

  • 3/4 ounces Leopold’s French Press Style American Coffee Liqueur, or your favorite coffee liqueur

  • 1/4 ounce Hiram Walker creme de cacao liqueur, or your preferred creme de cacao liqueur

  • 1 ounce brewed espresso, chilled

Pour the espresso, vodka, coffee liqueur, and creme de cacao in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a glass. The shaking will create a luxurious foamy layer on top of the drink. Garnish with cocoa powder or some chocolate coated espresso beans and enjoy!