Sweet vermouth was a mainstay on the American cocktail scene in the mid 19th century. It was being imported from Italy, and started to show up in cocktails like the Manhattan and Martinez. Italian vermouth came into being in the late 18th century, developed by Antonio Carpano. It was not until roughly twenty five years later that its dry cousin started to emerge in the south of France. Joseph Noilly developed dry vermouth in 1813 in the Laguedoc-Rousillon area of France, using Clairette and Picpoul de Pinet grapes. The dry version spread slowly, making it to America well after the Manhattan became the rage. Bartenders followed the tried and true pattern of using it in a variety of cocktails, but none of them stuck like the combination of gin and dry vermouth. The blending of the botanicals in gin and vermouth worked incredibly well, along with the dash of bitters that were in the early recipes for the drink.
The largest debate that comes with the Martini is one of proportions. The initial recipes mimicked the Manhattan, which we would call a Wet Martini, equal parts gin and vermouth. There was a variety of names associated with the cocktail until the name Martini stuck in the early 20th century. The most common proportion is two parts gin to one part dry vermouth, though some recipes call for a up to a nine to one ratio. If you want your Martini dry, that offers a wide range of interpretation. Some bartenders would go with the 9:1 ratio. Some would wash the glass with the vermouth then dump it (or "in and out") then add the gin. And some would look at the bottle and offer you a glass of chilled gin in a cocktail glass with a garnish.
2 parts gin
1 part dry vermouth
Garnish: Lemon Twist or Olives
Pour the gin and vermouth into a mixing tin. Add ice, and stir until the cocktail is well chilled. Strain into the glass. Twist the lemon peel over the cocktail and drop in.
The lemon twist adds a little of the oil to cocktail, adding another element for the nose to enjoy. I prefer mine with a little more vermouth, but this is a dandy version of it. Altering it to your taste does not change whether or not it is a Martini, but keep the vermouth in it. It is a delightful addition, and there are some spectacular brands of vermouth on the market. If the craft cocktail boom has done nothing else, it has improved the tools that bartenders can utilize. A simple cocktail like this one should be tried again in its original form, full uf vermouth and complexity. Trust me, it will be lovely.