What Your Martini Says About You

Two pros—one Manhattan bartender and one licensed psychoanalyst—tell us what you can find out about a person by the martini they order.
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My favorite icebreaker? Reading your martini. Tell me what’s in your glass, and I’ll tell you about yourself.

To be completely fair, it’s a bit of a pop psychology party trick, like the time I took up tarot cards during high school. But the truth is, it can be a revealing exercise.

To test my assumptions, I called on two experts: James Menite, who mans the bar at the swank Palm Court bar inside The Plaza hotel in New York City—where the martini is the top-seller—and a licensed psychoanalyst who loves a good martini but asked to have his name withheld.

So…how do you take your martini, and what does it say about you?

With gin: You’re a class act. But skip ahead and let’s see how you handle the rest of the order.

With vodka: A vodka martini can be crisp and refreshing—points for individualism if that’s what you really want. But it’s about how you ask for it. Are you insecure, just leaning on a specific brand? (Menite says that most vodka martini orders he gets exclude vermouth. That’s not a martini, it’s a glass of chilled vodka. Just order that.)

Dry: Meaning just a little vermouth. It’s a classic order. I bet you watch a lot of old movies.

Very, very dry:  That’s code for “no vermouth.” You just want a glass of gin. (“Sometimes, I’ll test people who ask for a ‘very dry’ martini,” Menite says. “I’ll ask, ‘So, a little vermouth?’ They’ll wave it away.”)

50-50: Equal parts gin and vermouth? That’s a pro order. Well played.

50-50 Martini

Reverse (lots of vermouth, a little gin): You’re cautious, trying to avoid getting too tipsy, too fast. Possibly you’re on a first date.

With olives: You’ve probably seen every episode of Mad Men.

With a lemon twist: You have a clean, crisp aesthetic. I bet your sock drawer is meticulously organized.

A vodka martini can be crisp and refreshing—points for individualism if that’s what you really want.

Orange twist: You’re a nonconformist. Bonus points if you ask for a dash of orange bitters.

Olives and a twist: You’re indecisive.

Extra olives: You’re hungry.

“Martini with [premium brand], and what kind of vermouth do you have? How long has it been open? OK, but not too much. And a lemon twist, not a wedge. And coupe glass if you have it instead of a martini glass.”: When I presented this scenario to my psychoanalyst buddy, his assessment was, “Someone who needs to exert that level of influence over a drink order might have control issues.” An alternative explanation might be that you’re a bartender at a fancy speakeasy.

Dirty: All that olive brine signals that you don’t really like martinis. Order whiskey next time.

Appletini: Either you’re obsessed with retro drinks and you’re being ironic with this order, or you haven’t been out of the house since 1998.

Dirty Appletini:  It’s assumed that you are kidding, but if not, that order will cause the bartender to exit post-haste or cut you off.

Published on January 10, 2017
Topics: Cocktails & Spirits
About the Author
Kara Newman 
Spirits Editor

Kara Newman reviews spirits and writes about spirits and cocktail trends for Wine Enthusiast. She's the author of several cocktail books, including Shake.Stir.Sip. and NIGHTCAP: More than 40 Cocktails to Close Out Any Evening, which debuts in September 2018. Email: spirits@wineenthusiast.net




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