What Is A 50/50 Martini Composed Of?

The martini is one of the most classic and varied drinks in the cocktail world. Folks make it shaken or stirred, with vodka or gin, and garnished with an olive or a lemon peel. There are espresso martinis and lemon drop martinis. There's the "perfect martini" made with both dry and sweet vermouths. James Bond's famously favored Vesper martini featured vodka, gin, and Lillet Blanc. It's paradoxically an enduring classic and a choose-your-own-adventure.

Its history is debated, says, Liquor.com, but the 50/50 martini first appeared in print in "The Savoy Cocktail Book" by legendary bartender Harry Craddock in 1930. Per Difford's Guide, Craddock is one of the most celebrated bartenders in history; he was even nicknamed "The Dean of Cocktail Shakers." But, despite its illustrious origin, the 50/50 martini didn't cement its enduring position in the cocktail world until the late 1990s, when NYC bartenders Audrey Saunders of the Pegu Club and Sasha Petraske of Milk & Honey added the drink to their menus. "It's a flavorful, elegant quaff that embodies the notion of culinary balance and not that of alcoholic largesse," says Saunders, via Punch. "It reflects equal attention to both flavor and detail." So, what's all the hype about?

In a classic martini, the standard gin-to-vermouth ratio is 3:1, says MasterClass. Adding more gin makes a martini "drier;" Adding more vermouth makes it "wetter." If standard martinis are a little too harsh for your taste, allow us to introduce the 50/50 martini.

Equal parts gin and vermouth

The 50/50 martini shares the same simple ingredients as the classic version: dry gin, dry vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters. But, per its namesake, the 50/50 martini is made with equal parts gin and vermouth. This "Fifty-Fifty" Dry Martini recipe adapted from Derek Brown of The Columbia Room in Washington, D.C., calls for 1½ ounces of gin and 1½ ounces of vermouth. Its straightforward recipe also makes it wicked simple to batch, says The New York Times — a favorite industry move.

Its higher vermouth ratio lowers the 50/50 martini's total ABV. Most gins pack a standard liquor's 40% ABV, but vermouth is a type of fortified wine, and its ABV falls somewhere around 16% to 18%. That's lower than a lot of cordials — and not every mixologist is on-board. NYC-based mixologist Thomas Waugh says the 50/50 isn't even a real martini at all. "When you say, 'Let's go get a Martini,' I'm not talking about going and drinking vermouth, man. A Martini means business," explains Waugh, via Punch. (Though, he admits that his friends actually prefer the 50/50 to a standard martini.)

Like classic martinis, the 50/50 martini offers a nuanced flavor profile determined by the tasting notes of the ingredients you use, so feel free to get creative. Botanical Tanqueray gin pairs well with French floral vermouth like Dolin Blanc. A Japanese dry gin like Ki No Bi by Kyoto would be complemented by this yuzu vermouth by Unico Zelo.