The iconic Martini, a bracing mix of gin and vermouth, seems like it ought to be the most straightforward drink in the world. Yet, it\u2019s often misunderstood.\r\n\r\nEven the most rigorous historians can\u2019t pinpoint the Martini\u2019s conception. Did it first show up at New York\u2019s Manhattan Club or Turf Club? Or in Martinez, California, with sweetened Old Tom gin? And when did it start spawning so many variations? Most agree, however, that its heyday began in the 1880s, which coincides with the advent of the \u201cDry Martini.\u201d\r\n\r\nToday, \u201cdry\u201d is code for \u201cminimal vermouth,\u201d says Robert Simonson, author of The Martini Cocktail (Ten Speed Press, 2019). But that\u2019s not how it was first interpreted.\r\n\r\n\u201cIn the drink\u2019s early years, \u2018dry\u2019 meant a Martini made with dry French vermouth, as opposed to sweet Italian vermouth,\u201d he says. \u201cOr one made with London dry gin rather than Old Tom gin. Or both.\u201d\r\n\r\nAfter World War II, the Dry Martini enjoyed a second wave of enthusiasm. By then, it was codified into juniper-forward London dry gin mixed with a small amount of dry vermouth. Fast forward to the 1950s, and the vodka version would also become commonplace.\r\n\r\nAnd now, following the often oversweetened, oversized \u2019tinis of the 1980s and \u201990s, a third Golden Age has arrived. The clean, crisp lines of the Martini are embraced once again. The dry style remains ubiquitous, but \u201cwet\u201d versions with plenty of vermouth abound as well. What hasn\u2019t changed is the delight in endless tweaks to customize this singular cocktail. Read on for all the details to design your favorite version.\r\nHistory in a Glass\r\nAt first, Simonson says, the drink didn\u2019t have an official glass. It wasn\u2019t unusual to receive one in a small wine glass, a coupe or even a flat-bottomed tumbler.\r\n\r\nThe iconic V-shaped glass likely predates the Martini and wasn\u2019t originally associated with it. In 1925, Austrian glassware company Lobmeyr unveiled its Ambassador glasses at a Paris exhibition, and they were brought later to New York.\r\n\r\n\u201cAll the glasses had a severe conical aspect, very much in keeping with the voguish Art Deco lines of the time,\u201d says Simonson.\r\n\r\nThe shape was adopted widely in the decades that followed. Between 1950 and 1970, a number of bars and restaurants hung neon signs that depicted the familiar V-shaped glass adorned with a glowing garnish. Turn the page to read up on other popular glasses.\r\n\r\nGibson\r\nIn mixing glass, stir 2 ounces gin and \u00bd ounce dry vermouth with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with cocktail onion.\r\nMartini\r\nIn mixing glass, stir 2 ounces gin or vodka and \u00be ounce dry vermouth with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist or olive.\r\nAlaska\r\nIn mixing glass, stir 2 ounces gin, \u00be ounce Yellow Chartreuse and 2 dashes orange bitters with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.\r\nVesper\r\nIn mixing glass, with apologies to Casino Royale, stir 1\u00bd ounces gin, \u00bd ounce vodka and \u00bc ounce Lillet Blanc with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.\r\n\r\nShaken or Stirred?\r\nEver since fictional spy James Bond famously ordered his drink \u201cshaken, not stirred,\u201d confusion has reigned. For a traditional Martini, which contains spirits, vermouth and no fruit juices, bartenders say that stirring is the way to go.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat happens when you shake a Martini is this: Dilution happens rapidly,\u201d says Ryan Gavin, beverage director at New York City\u2019s Gran Tivoli, which offers a full menu of martini variations. The drink will get cold, he says, but \u201cthe result is often weak and insipid.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nBottle Picks\r\nSee winemag.com/ratings for full tasting notes and other recommended spirits bottles.\r\nGin\r\nBeefeater London Dry: A versatile pick that balances juniper and citrus\r\n\r\nTanqueray London Dry: Clean and classic, with strong juniper and faint floral notes\r\n\r\nPlymouth: Soft and relatively neutral; won\u2019t fight with strong-flavored ingredients\r\n\r\nCitadelle: Brisk, clean and pleasantly citrusy\r\n\r\nAviation: Robust and flavorful, with hints of grapefruit and caraway seed\r\nVodka\r\nAbsolut Elyx: Clean, soft and mildly sweet\r\n\r\nHangar One: Distilled from a mix of grape and grain; overall neutral, with a fruity-floral hint\r\n\r\nThe Street Pumas: Full-bodied, accented by almond sweetness\r\nVermouth\r\nThese are listed from most to least dry. Sweet vermouth is also great, but since it\u2019s rarely used for a Martini, it\u2019s skipped here.\r\n\r\nMancino Vermouth Secco: Bone dry; racy lemon peel acidity plus sage and lemongrass hints\r\n\r\nCinzano Extra Dry: Versatile and crisp, with a whiff of stone fruit\r\n\r\nDolin Blanc Vermouth de Chamb\u00e9ry: Herbaceous, fresh and faintly bitter, in a good way; Dolin makes an excellent dry version, too\r\n\r\nLustau Vermut Blanco: Fino Sherry-based vermouth sweetened with Moscatel; grassy and mild\r\n\r\nAlessio Vermouth Bianco: Fresh and breezy, with a hint of ripe pear\r\n\r\n\r\nEntertaining with Martinis\r\nDon\u2019t make guests wait while you mix at your next party.\r\nOption #1\r\nPre-batch. A growing number of bartenders use this technique. At Sauvage in Brooklyn, New York, Bar Director Will Elliott pre-mixes 5\u00bd parts gin, 1 part vermouth and 2 parts water, plus orange bitters. He decants the mixture into bottles and stashes them in the freezer. This technique creates a luxurious, almost syrupy texture and \u201cabsolutely frigidly cold\u201d temperature. That said, Audrey Saunders, the famed owner of New York City\u2019s Pegu Club, has tweeted that she\u2019s no fan of batched Martinis. To stir and serve \u201cshould remain [a] sacred ritual,\u201d she says.\r\nOption #2\r\nDIY. Some people have very specific preferences, so why not encourage guests to mix their own? This can also be a good ice-breaker. Set out a card with one or two classic recipes alongside a few bottles of gin, vodka, vermouth, some bitters and plenty of garnish options like lemon, grapefruit and orange twists. You can also add savory options like olives, onions and caperberries, or even fresh herb sprigs or edible flowers.\r\nV-shaped\r\nPro: It offers plenty of room for extra olives to nestle at the bottom.\r\n\r\nCon: The wide-mouthed top makes it easy for the drink to slosh over the rim.\r\n\r\nFact: An oversized \u201990s-style glass holds a double, so sip slowly.\r\nCoupe\r\nThis saucer-shaped glass, once claimed to be formed in the shape of Marie Antoinette\u2019s breast, can typically hold 4\u20136 ounces. The small size is an advantage. A larger glass means the drink may warm up before it\u2019s finished.\r\nNick & Nora\r\nThis is named for hard-drinking sleuths Nick and Nora Charles, featured in Dashiell Hammett\u2019s 1934 detective novel The Thin Man. It has a deeper bowl with a more pronounced curve and thinner lip than a coupe, which makes for easy sipping.\r\nRocks\r\nServed with ice, a \u201cMartini on the Rocks\u201d is a casual option popularized in the late \u201950s and \u201960s. Today, it\u2019s seen mostly at old-school restaurants and bars. The ice keeps everything cold and also dilutes the drink as it melts, ideal for those who find \u201cup\u201d Martinis too potent.\r\nGlassware Guide\r\n\u201cCocktail glass\u201d can refer to a variety of stemmed glasses. The ones listed above, stemmed or not, are all Martini-appropriate. Stash one in the freezer for 20\u201330 minutes; a chilled glass keeps a drink cold longer.\r\n\r\n\r\nAccessories\r\nYou don\u2019t need much equipment to mix a Martini, but here are a few tools to make the job easier, more precise or simply more fun.\r\nMixing glass or tin\r\nAs functional or decorative as you please.\r\nBarspoon\r\nTo stir (not shake).\r\nJigger\r\nMost have a dual-measure design, like measuring 1\u00bd ounces on one side and 1 ounce on the other.\r\nStrainer\r\nA Julep strainer, with a perforated bowl, should fit neatly in your mixing glass to hold back ice. A Hawthorne strainer, which has a coiled spring, is meant to strain citrus pulp in shaken drinks, but it works here, too.\r\nCocktail picks\r\nOptional, but handy for spearing olives, onions and other garnishes.