A halfsies martini, which is also known as a half and half martini, a perfect martini, a 50/50 martini or a 50/50 cocktail, is a cocktail that reduces the ABV content of a standard martini significantly by mixing equal parts of vodka or gin and vermouth.
You simply shake or stir (more on that debate below!) with ice and pour the chilled alcohol into a glass. This is an excellent choice for a cocktail when you want the elegance of a martini, but not as much alcohol.
While a classic or extra dry martini is fun for some, others prefer cocktails that are equally savory but have lower alcohol. A halfsies martini is all about the ratio change to make it a more approachable, palatable, and drinkable cocktail.
How is the 50/50 Martini Different from a Classic Martini?
Of all the cocktails out there, a martini is one of the strongest. A classic martini uses a ratio of 2 ½ ounces of vodka or gin to just 1/2 ounce of vermouth.
To get an “extra dry martini” you employ even less vermouth, sometimes only rinsing the glass with it then dumping the excess alcohol out. That means a dry martini is essentially just lightly chilled vodka or gin.
What’s in a 50/50 Martini?
There are no ingredients needed for this martini beyond what you’d normally put in one: you can still choose which vodka or gin to use, and the flavor of it will remain strong.
Make sure you pick a high quality vermouth, as you’ll actually be tasting it in this version of the drink. I offer suggestions in the “How to Pair Ingredients” section below. Additionally, you can add a dash or two of aromatic bitters for a fuller flavor.
History of the 50/50 Martini
Oddly enough, the halfsies martini is considered a drastic variation from what a classic martini is today, but the half and half ratio is rumored to be how the drink began in the 1800s. It was originally equal parts sweet gin and sweet vermouth.
In the early 1900s, the cocktail shifted to equal parts dry gin and dry vermouth. It was only after prohibition, when people got excited for quality alcohol because they’d been drinking bathtub gin for so long, that the change in ratio occurred and a martini became such a spirit-forward beverage.
Vodka made its way into martinis as an option in lieu of gin mid-century, but it didn’t become a popular choice until the 1980s.
How to Pick the Best Vodka or Gin for a 50/50 Martini
For a vodka 50/50, you’ll want to choose a top shelf option if possible, since even with fifty percent vermouth, it’ll still be a fifty percent vodka cocktail. Smooth vodkas ideal for martinis include:
- Van Gogh
- Grey Goose.
For a gin 50/50 finding the best gin to suit your tastes is of the utmost importance because unlike vodka’s more muted sensibilities gin has a strong, pronounced flavor. Here are some great options:
- Old Tom
- Bombay Sapphire
- London Dry
- Tanqueray 10
Neither Sweet Nor Savory Gin:
- Bols Genever
How to Pair Vermouth with Vodka or Gin
When the 50/50 is made with vodka the flavor will be heavily influenced by the vermouth. If you know you prefer fruiter notes then choose a sweet vermouth. If you know you prefer herbal notes, then select a dry vermouth.
When it’s made with gin, you want to make sure the vermouth complements rather than fights the floral and herbal notes of gin. You will want to pair herbal gin with herbal vermouth and fruity gin with fruity vermouth. Here are two of my favorites:
- Carpano Antica vermouth is perfect for sweet and fruity notes.
- Dolin is a dry vermouth that works well with herbaceous and savory notes.
You’ll want the exact same glassware, garnishes, and mixing tools that you’d use for a standard martini. This includes a martini glass, which can be kept chilled in the freezer prior to the drink’s preparation, your favorite martini garnish of olives, lemon twist, or cocktail onion, and either a shaker or a mixing glass with a bar spoon.
Shaken vs. Stirred
Few debates are hotter in the cocktail world than whether to shake or stir a martini.
When you stir a martini in a mixing glass with a bar spoon, you chill the alcohol without chipping the ice. That means the drink is not diluted by melted ice, keeping it at full strength.
Additionally, you don’t aerate the alcohol at all, or “bruise” it by interfering with its structure. The result of gently stirring a martini is a stronger drink that stays clear, not cloudy, and tastes more strongly of alcohol.
Conversely, shaking a beverage with ice inevitably dilutes it. The resulting cocktail will have a slightly lower alcohol content due to the melted ice. Since aerating cocktail ingredients is only considered necessary when they include citrus juice, it’s not a martini requirement.
Knowing that, which is better? I personally drink only shaken martinis because they taste more palatable. Don’t be concerned about which way is more “right,” but rather, with which preparation allows you to best enjoy your drink.
More Vodka Cocktail Recipes
- 1 1/2 ounces vodka or gin
- 1 1/2 ounces vermouth
- Lemon twist, olive or cocktail onion, garnish, optional
Chill martini glass:
Place a martini glass in the freezer or fill it with ice and water while preparing the drink.
Add spirits to cocktail shaker:
Add the vodka or gin and vermouth to a cocktail shaker or mixing glass and fill with ice.
Shake or stir the cocktail:
Shake the cocktail vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Alternatively, you can stir it with a spoon.
Pour martini into glass and garnish:
Remove the martini glass from the freezer or empty and dry if it was filled with water and ice. Pour martini into the glass. If using a garnish, add it atop the cocktail.