Illustration by Lani Kemp
“Never count the martini out,” writes Robert Simonson in The Martini Cocktail: A Meditation on the World’s Greatest Drink.
An enduring icon, the martini has cultural cachet and versatility. For decades, martini drinkers have specified whether they prefer theirs wet (vermouth-forward), dry (little to no vermouth) or dirty (with olive brine), much as they would order a steak medium-rare or coffee black.
The drink’s basic recipe also provides a rubric from which generations of bartenders have created new cocktails. If you play around with the ratio of gin to vermouth, swap in different spirits, or add other ingredients alongside or instead of vermouth, you can transform a martini into an entirely new, yet undeniably related drink.
Here are four of our favorite cocktails in the martini family tree.