Shake Things Up with Five Martini Recipes from Boston Bartenders

By Eric Twardzik · 03/05/2021

Does any cocktail generate more controversy than the martini? Vodka or gin, shaken or stirred—we’ll leave those debates at the door and focus on what makes a good drink. Luckily, Boston’s bartenders make it easy to do. This list highlights martini-inspired cocktails made locally, and while you might not be able to order them all up at the moment (we’ll miss you forever, Island Creek Oyster Bar!), you can always shake things up at home. Whether you’re looking for something totally classic or inventive, the diverse range of martinis highlighted here is sure to start your evening out right.

Photo Credit: JM Leach

Dry martini, or wet martini? Orfano splits the difference with this traditional take, which mixes three parts Citadelle Gin to one-part Dolin Dry Vermouth. Its single flourish is a dash of orange bitters, which add an element of brightness to the Martini while playing up the gin’s citrus character. Whether it’s garnished with a lemon twist, cocktail onion, or an olive is entirely up to you.

Poire Martini
Sweet or fruity concoctions that are “martinis” in name (or cocktail glass) only have long been a punchline of the cocktail world. But instead of piling on, the bartenders at Colette decided to make a good non-martini martini. The Poire Martini from the Cambridge bar is inspired by the flavors of a lavender crème brûlée, mixing floral Fords Gin with a French pear liqueur, lavender bitters, lime juice, and just a touch of rich simple syrup.

Monkey Biz
Martinis have a reputation for high-octane alcohol content, but this elegant offering, created by acclaimed bartender Jackson Cannon at the now-shuttered Island Creek Oyster Bar, softens the cocktail by using Dolin Dry Vermouth and Lillet for two-thirds of its content. Both fortified wines which pack less of a punch than spirits like gin or vodka and yet, it’s no lightweight: The final third comes courtesy of Monkey 47, a full-flavored, 47% alcohol-by-volume gin that’s distilled in Germany’s Black Forest. A single teaspoon of St. Germain liqueur adds just a touch of sweetness.

Backbar’s puzzling Jabberwocky looks like a martini and drinks like a martini, but it contains none of the expected ingredients. Instead, it’s an equal-parts blend of smoky mezcal, manzanilla sherry, and floral blanc vermouth, stirred and served up in a coupe. Your eyes may think you’re sipping a Martini, but your taste buds will tell an entirely different story.

Espresso Martini
Yes, we’re suckers for the Espresso Martini, a once-derided dessert drink that’s experiencing a second life thanks to thoughtful cocktail bars like Yvonne’s. The classic recipe there calls on vodka and Kahlua but improves the drink with fresh espresso and a vanilla bean simple syrup that’s made in minutes but pays huge flavor dividends. It’s also dairy free but comes off as creamy thanks to the frothy texture created by a good shake.

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