A bottle of gin or vodka of your choosing. It should be room temperature, not frozen! More on this later. You will need a reasonably fresh bottle of dry vermouth (the green one). Vermouth has a short shelf life. Just because you store it next to the gin bottle in the closet does not mean it will last six years. A few months is OK. You will need a proper martini glass. It should be large enough to hold at least six ounces of liquid, plus a few olives, and still have a half inch of free board for trembles. There is something about the anticipation of an ice cold martini that makes grown men tremble. I like an eight ounce glass. For preparation you will need a cocktail shaker, a strainer, a shot glass if you need to measure, and a stirring spoon. You should have a good supply of ice cubes, and some decent olives. Here too, people go off in many directions with all different types and sizes of olives - stuffed with garlic, cheese, or pimento. I really enjoy a good large fresh pitted green olive in my martini. I buy mine at Zabar’s. If I want to be fancy I use caper berries. I avoid olives cured in a lot of oil, or stuffed with anything oily. I think oil floating on the surface spoils the crisp clean look of a good martini. They don’t use the expression “gin – clear” for nothing. An alternative is a twist – not a slice – of lemon. Only the lemon rind is used, twisted to release the lemon oil. Think espresso.
When you are ready to start preparing the drink you must first chill the glass. Fill the glass with ice cubes, then fill the glass with cold water, almost to the top. As it sits for a few minutes while you are making the drink it will get nice and frosty. Now on to the drink. Much is made of the amount of vermouth that goes into a martini. Too much will ruin the drink, but you do need some vermouth or the drink will not taste at all like a martini. Too many bartenders assume that “very dry” means no vermouth, which is most definitely not the case. If you use no vermouth you have a gin or vodka on the rocks, not a martini. Some will use a perfume mister, or wave the cork over the glass, or some other silly stuff. The fool proof method is as follows. Old timers will remember it as an “in and out” martini, served “up” as opposed to “on the rocks”.