The Essential Ingredient You May Be Overlooking In Your Classic Martini

Nothing says swanky like a perfectly made martini. Whether you prefer making your martini by shaking it, à la James Bond, or stirring, you may be missing a key ingredient that can take your swanky drink to the next level.

After a drop in popularity during Prohibition, when sweeter cocktails became all the rage, Bond offered a much-needed resurgence of the martini in the 1960s, according to Edible San Francisco, with people wanting to emulate the infamous spy character. A standard martini is anything but sweet, made of equal parts dry vermouth and gin. However, there are a few martini variations: dry, sweet, perfect, and dirty

In the 1950s, when vodka grew in popularity, people began to order their martinis with vodka in place of gin, per Moody Mixologist. And, while gin and vodka remain acceptable options for the alcoholic beverage, a proper martini should still have a citrus touch.

A splash of bitters

To provide some depth of flavor and aroma to your classic martini, add some orange bitters. No matter what type of gin or vodka is used to make a martini, it will benefit from a splash, per Moody Mixologist. Orange bitters also pair well with the taste of gin and vermouth, which has a slightly herbal flavor.

Derek Brown, a leading spirits and cocktail expert and owner of the Drink Company, told Mental Floss that a martini is not a true martini without orange bitters. He says the bitters are the most often missing ingredient of a martini, but are important because they add the bitter taste associated with a classic martini (Moody Mixologist says many bartenders skip the bitters because they do not believe they are a necessary ingredient).

A classic martini with orange bitters, according to Saveur, requires two ounces of gin, a half ounce of dry vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters. So maybe the question shouldn't be shaken or stirred the next time you make a martini, but with a dash of bitters or without.