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.

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 Shake.Stir.Sip.: 40 Effortless Cocktails Made In Equal Parts (Chronicle Books, 2016) as well as ROAD SODA: Recipes and techniques for making great cocktails, anywhere (Dovetail Press, 2017). Email: spirits@wineenthusiast.net

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