Recipe: The Best Martini Requires 50 Percent Vermouth


Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice.

Today’s call comes by way of Kat Dunn, mixologist at The Lion (62 West 9th Street; 212-353-8400).

Although Kat Dunn has tended bar for decades, her segue into the New York cocktail scene is more or less just beginning. She was self-admittedly “late to the game” when she made her commitment to craft mixology in 2010, though her appreciation for the classics makes her a quick study. One of her favorites? “A wet Plymouth martini is one of the most perfect classics,” she says. “By wet, I go with 50/50,” which means equal parts dry vermouth and gin. Upping vermouth to keep it on a par with gin avoids making the drink excessively boozy, which makes it exceptionally versatile, she explains.

And it’s superior to super-dry. “Vermouth gives more viscosity, more body, more flavor,” she says. “It’s how it was meant to be. Otherwise, you’re not looking at a martini, you’re looking at gin.”

Dunn drinks this cocktail frequently: “When I’m on my off time, I want something super-clean and light,” she says. She gained an appreciation for it at Zak Pelaccio’s Fish and Game, where she landed after working at several of the Fatty Crew restaurants. It was here that she first had a Hoffman House martini and explored the two-to-one ratio of gin to dry vermouth. Over time, Dunn modified the proportions to find the balance she so enjoys today.

When the need for a strong, booze-focused drink arises, Dunn orders a rye old-fashioned with Rittenhouse, Overholt, or Copperfox. When Dunn is able to escape The Lion and finds herself in the neighborhood, she enjoys grabbing both drinks at Manhattan Cricket Club, Mother’s Ruin, and Summit Bar.

Plymouth Martini (Wet)

1 1/2 ounces of Plymouth gin
1 1/2 ounces of Dolin dry vermouth
2 dashes of orange bitters
1 lemon zest

Stir gin, vermouth, and bitters with ice for 40 rotations. Strain. Add lemon zest.

Rye Old-Fashioned

Barspoon of agave
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 dashes of orange bitters
2 ounces of rye. Overholt makes a great one.
No muddled fruit whatsoever.

Stir ingredients for 40 seconds, preferably over a two-inch-by-two-inch ice cube. Garnish with orange peel.