Best Gin for a Martini (Classic, Dry & Dirty)

August 28, 2023 by Anna-Bet Stemmet

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Choosing the best gin for a Martini can be a little tricky when you are just starting out. After all, there are so many excellent options out there. Where to start? The good news is that it’s mostly a matter of personal taste, and we’ve got a simple and easy guide ready to help you choose your favorite.   

How to Choose a Gin for a Martini

Shelves of different gins for martini

So, you’ve decided to indulge in the timeless allure of a Classic Martini —that sophisticated symphony of gin and vermouth. But wait, there’s more to it than just grabbing any old gin off the shelf.  

Choosing the right gin is like selecting the perfect partner for a dance; it sets the mood, defines the experience, and can elevate your Martini from good to unforgettable. Here are a few friendly tips to consider when navigating the gin aisle for your Martini masterpiece. 

Type matters

The first step is knowing your gin types. London dry gin is the classic choice, with juniper-forward botanicals that dance harmoniously with vermouth. For a floral twist, rose gin brings delicate aromas to the party. Japanese gin often features unique botanicals like cherry blossoms for an exotic touch. Plymouth gin, with its slightly sweeter profile, adds depth to your Martini. If you’re seeking something contemporary, explore dry gins or New American styles, each with its own flavor twists. 

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Embrace the flavor

The essence of a Martini lies in its flavors. Consider the gin’s primary botanicals – juniper, coriander, citrus, herbs, and more. A well-balanced gin will shine through in your Martini, so take a sip to gauge how these flavors interact with your palate. Is it in harmony, or do any flavors overpower the others? If they do, adjust and taste again.  

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Inhale the aroma

Aroma is like the opening act of your Martini experience. When you take a whiff, does the gin offer a bouquet of botanicals that entices you? Juniper, citrus, and spices are typical notes in gin aromas. And that’s what you want because a gin with a captivating aroma can elevate the anticipation of that first sip. 

Seek balance above all else

The perfect Martini is all about balance. Your gin should work hand-in-hand with the vermouth, creating a harmonious symphony of flavors. Look for a gin that complements the vermouth rather than overpowering it. An overly strong gin might drown out the vermouth’s subtleties, while a too mild one could get lost in the mix. 

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What about Dry and Dirty Martinis?

Dirty martini with pickled onion garnish

A Dry Martini relies on the simplicity of gin and vermouth, allowing the spirits to take center stage. As such, the aromatic quality of your gin should shine through without overwhelming the fortified wine component. It’s typically best to use a gin with a delicate yet expressive aroma that invites you in with hints of juniper and citrus. This balanced aroma is the prelude to a Dry Martini experience that’s nothing short of delightful. 

In a Dirty Martini, the gin’s flavors play a dynamic role alongside the brininess of the olives. Choose a gin that boasts bold botanicals that can stand up to the olive’s assertiveness yet still maintain a balanced profile. A London dry gin with herbal and earthy undertones can work exceptionally well, ending with a touch of spice to complement the briny twist. 

Learn more: Everything You Need to Know About Vermouth  

London dry gin

Pouring shot of London dry gin

London dry gin stands as a symbol of gin craftsmanship with a rich history in mixology. Despite its name, it doesn’t need to originate from London to capture the essence of traditional gin-making. Made through a meticulous distillation process, London dry gin is acclaimed for its juniper-forward flavor, well-balanced blend of botanicals, and the unique touch it imparts to a Martini. 

When used in a Martini, London dry gin creates a harmonious interplay of flavors. The juniper notes take the lead, delivering an herbaceous quality that melds smoothly with vermouth. The outcome is a Martini that boasts a timeless, intricate aroma, combining the botanicals’ fragrant elements with the subtle hints of vermouth. Its clear appearance and velvety texture lend a touch of elegance to the Martini’s visual and olfactory appeal. 

Rose gin

bottles of pink gin

Rose gin, also known as pink gin, brings a distinctive twist to the classic Martini. Infused with the delicate and floral essence of roses, this gin variation introduces a new dimension of flavor, texture, and appearance to your cocktail experience.  

When used in a Martini, rose gin offers a subtle yet captivating floral note that complements the traditional herbal profile. The result is a Martini with a nuanced aroma and a touch of elegance that adds depth to the familiar juniper character. 

Apart from its flavor, rose gin also affects the cocktail’s texture and look. The gin’s infusion of floral elements adds a soft and aromatic dimension to the Martini’s feel on the palate. Visually, the addition of rose gin might impart a gentle pinkish hue to the cocktail, enhancing its visual appeal. 

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Japanese gin

Bottle of Japanese gin for gin martini

For those seeking a Martini experience that balances tradition with innovation, Japanese gin provides a harmonious fusion of both worlds. Infused with the precision and subtlety characteristic of Japanese culture, this singular spirit variation puts a unique spin on the classic cocktail. 

When used in a Martini, Japanese gin adds a delicate bouquet of botanicals that frequently draws inspiration from regional flavors. This lends a gentle complexity to the cocktail’s flavor profile, enhancing the traditional juniper base with nuanced herbal and citrus notes. 

The impact of Japanese gin extends beyond flavor. Its careful distillation process often results in a smoother texture, offering a velvety feel on the palate. While the color of the Martini remains clear, the incorporation of Japanese gin introduces a subtle shift in the cocktail’s aromatic profile.  

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Plymouth gin

Hand garnishing a classic gin martini with an olive on a stick

Known for its slightly sweeter and earthier notes when compared to London dry gin, Plymouth gin originally hails from the historic naval town of Plymouth in England. This interesting spirit typically yields a Martini with a more approachable taste profile, which is ideal for those trying a Martini for the first time.  

Beyond flavor, Plymouth gin also influences texture and appearance. Its smoother and fuller-bodied nature contributes to a luxurious mouthfeel, enhancing the overall drinking experience. While the Martini retains its classic clear hue, the use of Plymouth gin might subtly influence the cocktail’s aromatic presence.  

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Dry gin

Woman pouring London dry gin into a glass with ice

Dry gin, which differs quite a bit from London dry gin, offers a crisp and versatile option for your Martini. Unlike London dry, which is subjected to strict manufacturing regulations, dry gin allows for more creative interpretation in its botanical selection and production methods.  

Texture-wise, dry gin often lends a lighter and more delicate mouthfeel to the Martini. Visually, the cocktail retains its traditional clear appearance, letting the gin’s essence shine through in its purest form. 

So, whether you’re a Martini traditionalist seeking a novel experience, or a cocktail enthusiast interested in exploring different flavor dimensions, dry gin presents a canvas to customize your Martini adventure while preserving the cocktail’s timeless appeal. 

New American gin

New American gin is yet another contemporary spin on the traditional spirit. This gin style deviates from the juniper-heavy tradition, embracing a diverse array of botanicals and creative approaches to production. 

Using New American gin in a Martini will typically yield an intriguing departure from the classic formula. This type of spirit’s expansive botanical palette can result in a flavor profile that ranges from floral and citrusy to spicy and herbal. This variety invites a dynamic play of flavors, making each sip an exploration of modern taste dimensions. 

Texture-wise, New American gin often carries a smoother and more approachable mouthfeel, contributing to a well-rounded cocktail experience. While the cocktail’s clear appearance remains intact, the use of New American gin will almost always add a contemporary twist to a Martini’s aromatic composition.  

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Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a gin for your Martini. Personal preference plays a big role, so don’t hesitate to explore different options and experiment until you find the gin that resonates with your taste buds. Whether you’re a classic Martini enthusiast or a daring flavor explorer, the right gin can turn your cocktail journey into a memorable adventure.  

So, cheers to the quest for the perfect Martini – a dance of flavors, aromas, and unforgettable moments. If you’d like more helpful info like this delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter, and The Mixer will keep you in the know.  


Both gin and vodka have their merits in a Martini. Gin brings a herbal and aromatic complexity, elevating the cocktail's character. Vodka offers a neutral canvas, highlighting vermouth's subtleties. If you prefer a flavorful, classic profile, go with gin. For a crisper, more minimalist experience, opt for vodka. It ultimately depends on your taste preferences – whether you lean towards botanical intrigue or a clean backdrop. So, choose based on the mood you want to set in your glass.

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