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.
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.