The Smoky Martini is a widespread twist bartenders have been serving since the 70s. In an interview, legendary bartender Dale DeGroff confirmed that he served Smoky Martinis regularly during this time. So, let's have a closer look at the drink:
Quick Facts Smoky Martini Cocktail
- Method: stirred
- Flavor profile: smoky, boozy, dry
- How to serve it: straight up
- Best glassware: Martini glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 32%, 26 grams of alcohol per serving
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Mixing glass
- 1 Bar spoon
- 1 Hawthorne Strainer
- 2.5 oz Dry Gin
- 0.25 oz Peated Scotch
- Lemon peel or olives (for garnish)
- Pour Gin and Scotch into a Mixing glass filled with ice.2.5 oz Dry Gin, 0.25 oz Peated Scotch
- Stir until the drink with your bar spoon for 20 seconds until it is well-chilled, then strain into a Martini glass.
- Garnish with a lemon peel or twist.Lemon peel or olives (for garnish)
Ingredients of the Smoky Martini
The twist on a Dry Gin Martini does not replace the gin but the dry vermouth with peated Islay Scotch. It also changes the ratios because this Scotch has a more intense flavor than dry vermouth. After all, you don't want to overpower the gin completely:
- The Scotch: Making a great Scotch Martini is not so much about being a top bartender as it is about using the right, high-quality ingredients. Also, the type of Scotch is crucial. Use a blended Scotch like Dewar’s for your standard serve, or go all in with a proper peaty Scotch like Laphroaig. Lagavulin 16 makes for a distinctively smoky taste.
- The Gin: As gin is the main ingredient in this cocktail, it is just as important. In a Martini, a dry gin or London Dry Gin is the number one choice. For a Smoky Martin, our favorites are Rutte Dry Gin and Botanist Gin. If you want to make the cocktail all-Scottish, opt for the Botanist from Islay -just like Laphroaig and Lagavulin.
The Smoky Martini is rich and more flavorful than a classic Dry Martini. The addition of Scotch not only brings a smoky note to the drink but adds depth and creates an even more sophisticated cocktail.
With the ideal ratio of peated Islay Scotch and gin, the smoky notes of the whisky harmonize beautifully with the botanicals.
The Perfect Ratio & Best Practice
A typical recommendation for a Dry Martini is 5 parts gin and 1 part vermouth. However, applying the same ratio in a Smoky Martini would ruin the drink for most drinkers.
Peated Scotch should generally be used carefully in mixed drinks; - in a Martini, that's even more important. With just two ingredients, the balance has to be just right.
I recommend using 0.5 parts of Scotch per 5 parts gin. That is half the amount of dry vermouth and, trust me, that's enough.
Further, we advise stirring this drink with plenty of ice cubes for at least 20 seconds. That chills the ingredients and adds the required dilution to this seriously boozy concoction.
The History of the Smoky Martini Recipe
Smoky Martinis have been a frequent serve, at least since the 70s. However, there is an indication that the recipe could be significantly older.
The novel Harlot’s Ghost by novelist Norman Mailer, based on a real-life character, suggests that the main character, CIA Agent William King Harvey, drank such a cocktail already in the 1950s.
As CIA Agent Harvey was running an operation in West Berlin at the beginning of the 1950s, the drink was named the Berlin Station Chief (at least in the book). Yet, there is no proof that the drink existed in real life back then.
More Martini Recipes
Martinis come in all sorts and flavors. Some of the crowd-favorites are:
For a better overview, you can also check out our list of the different Martini types.