Is It Possible To Make A Martini Without Vermouth?

The martini, that classic combination of gin and vermouth, is something a lot of people don't want you to mess with. It inspires passionate debate about the exact right way to make one, with everyone from Winston Churchill to Julia Child having an opinion. But if you are arguing over how to make a martini, the issue is normally ingredient ratios — whether to go 3:1, 4:1, or even drier on the gin-to-vermouth combo. Most purists would say changing the vermouth to anything else makes it a different drink entirely. Besides, if you love martinis, you'll probably always have the two ingredients on hand, so the question of subbing out the vermouth would seem to be a moot point.

However, the pure simplicity of the drink has also given birth to hundreds of martini variations. In fact, according to Difford's Guide, the martini itself may originally be a variation of the Manhattan and Martinez cocktails. The basic combination of liquor and vermouth is something that clearly begets experimentation, whether it's mixing sweet and dry vermouth in a perfect martini or transforming it into a gimlet with lime juice. With that in mind, the possibilities of what a martini can be expand significantly, and there are some vermouth alternatives that will give you a similar experience still worthy of the name.

Try a martini with other types of fortified wine

If you can switch out gin for vodka and call it a martini, then we say you can switch the dry vermouth too. Vermouth is a fortified wine product flavored with herbs and spices that already vary from brand to brand, so other styles of fortified wine can also work well. If you're looking to come as close as possible to the martini's original intent, then VinePair suggests Lillet Blanc or dry sherry. There are also other brands like Cocchi Americano that will do the trick, and you can peruse the apéritif and digestif section of your local liquor store for the increasing number of bitter, wine-based liquors. Just make sure to go for white and dry styles to stick closest to the vermouth experience.

There is one other way to drink a martini without vermouth, and that's to just drop it entirely with no replacement. It's called the Churchill martini, which Drizly notes was named after Winston Churchill's purported preference for nothing but gin stirred with ice and an olive. While straight gin in a glass may not sound like the most appealing drink these days, some drinkers' preference for super-dry martinis with 7:1 or higher ratios means Churchill's style isn't that far off. It just goes to prove that a martini can be whatever you want it to be, vermouth or not.