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A bartender mixes a martini tableside from an elegant martini cart
The martini cart at Orfano
JM Leach

The Best Martinis in Boston Right Now

16 martinis to sip in late 2019

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The martini cart at Orfano
| JM Leach

Vodka or gin? Shaken or stirred? Wet or dry? Olive or twist? However you like your martini, Boston has a bar making the perfect one for you. Check out these 16 unique takes on one of the most iconic classic cocktails.

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As soon as Sarma bartender Jonathan Buonomo got a whiff of the restaurant’s new bergamot rooibos tea, he knew he needed to work it into a gin martini. The tea makes an appearance in the Prince’s Pear as a bergamot tincture, mixed with a two-to-one ratio of Seattle-made Aloo Gin and slightly sweet Dolin Blanc vermouth. Aromatic grapefruit oil expressed over the top provides the finishing touch to this spirit-forward standout on Sarma’s menu.

A light yellow martini variation, garnished with citrus peel, sits on a light wooden table
Prince’s Pear at Sarma
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

Trina's Starlite Lounge

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If you’re used to very dry martinis that have barely glanced at a bottle of vermouth, then the All Heart 50/50 at Trina’s will be a breath of fresh air. Named for the venue’s PR company (whose owner is a huge fan of the drink), this dirty martini is made with equal parts Monkey 47 gin and Carpano dry vermouth, four dashes of house-made orange bitters, and a bar spoon of olive brine. “A little bit of brine is just perfect,” says Trina’s co-owner Josh Childs. He garnishes the drink with both olives and a large twist of lemon. 

A pale yellow martini is garnished with green olives and a citrus peel
The All Heart 50/50 at Trina’s Starlite Lounge
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

The Longfellow Bar

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This dirty martini named for a track off Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska (Atlantic City) is no longer on the Longfellow Bar’s album-themed cocktail menu (the bar has moved on to Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy a Thrill), but avid fans of the drink have necessitated that the bar keep a steady supply of olive brine on hand. The Atlantic City can be made with your choice of vodka or gin and is served, as the menu once said, “filthy.”

A martini sits on a stone wall outside, in front of a brick wall
Atlantic City at the Longfellow Bar
Nicole Kanner

Russell House Tavern

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Available at Russell House Tavern, the Means of Preservation is a Boston classic that was created by John Gertsen at Drink (based on a similar cocktail called the Ephemeral). The inclusion of sweet and floral St-Germain is perfectly balanced by the savory, peppery flavor of celery bitters. Express some grapefruit oil on top, and you have the most interesting — and delicious — martini in town.

A pale yellow martini in a small glass sits on a dark wood bar
Means of Preservation at Russell House Tavern
Russell House Tavern [Official Photo]

The Hourly Oyster House

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Just around the corner and from the same team as Russell House Tavern, the Hourly Oyster House is also mixing up a unique gin martini, the Jabberwocky. This lower-ABV cocktail, adapted from a classic recipe called the Jabberwock, is made with Manzanilla sherry, Citadelle gin, Lillet Blanc, and orange bitters. The briny sherry makes it the perfect pairing for oysters.

A blush-colored martini with a sherry and gin base sits on a marble bar top
The Jabberwocky at the Hourly Oyster House
The Hourly Oyster House [Official Photo]

Loyal Nine

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Fermentation is a big part of Loyal Nine’s American colonial-inspired cuisine, and it naturally plays a role on the drink menu as well. The dirty martini is made with Greylock gin from the Berkshires, a hefty pour of sauerkraut juice, and a touch of dry vermouth. The garnish varies seasonally; currently you can expect a nasturtium leaf and flower. A dehydrated sauerkraut rim adds additional salt and brine with each sip.

A pale yellow martini, garnished with a bold red flower and a dehydrated sauerkraut rim, sits on the edge of a wooden bar
The dirty martini at Loyal Nine
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

The Automatic

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The Automatic dresses up its dirty martini with Citadelle gin and a lemon-thyme brine made by soaking fresh thyme and lemon peels in salt water, giving the drink a bitter, saline kick. There’s no vermouth to be found here, and the drink is served in the Automatic’s typical no-frills fashion, in a fluted rocks glass with an olive garnish.

A nearly clear dirty martini is served in a no-frills fluted rocks glass with an olive garnish
The dirty martini at the Automatic
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

Our Fathers

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Allston deli and gin bar Our Fathers knows there’s more than one way to make a good martini. The martini menu features seven variations: bone dry, extra dry, dry, wet, dirty, Gibson, and the Duke (chilled Plymouth gin with no dilution). Each of these can be made with any of Our Fathers’ 154 gins, so the possibilities are nearly endless.

A clear martini sits on a gray bar. Modern lime green bar seats are visible along the edge.
The martini at Our Fathers
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

Better Sorts Social Club

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Better Sorts is known for its creative and culinary cocktails, and the Cacio e Pepe Martini is the perfect example. Former beverage director Naomi Levy combined a vodka martini with the classic pasta dish by infusing Dolin dry vermouth with gouda and creating a black pepper pasta water syrup. The drink is served in a gorgeous gold-lined black coupe and garnished with a cocktail onion.

A martini is served in an elegant gold-lined black coupe and garnished with a cocktail onion, presented on a dark background
The Cacio e Pepe Martini at Better Sorts Social Club
Caitlin Cunningham Photography

Boston Chops

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At Boston Chops’ downtown location, the steakhouse keeps things retro with its ’70s-style martini service. Absolut Elyx is shaken with Dolin vermouth until it’s extra cold, and it’s served with an olive garnish and a sidecar on ice.

A clear martini is in a glass, garnished with green olives. A glass vessel filled with clear liquid sits in a metal ice bucket next to the martini.
Steakhouse martini service at Boston Chops DTX
Andy Ryan Photography

Troquet on South

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If you prefer to choose your own adventure when it comes to your martini, then the Two Martini Lunch at Troquet is perfect for you. The gin or vodka martini comes with a sidecar on ice along with your choice of garnishes: olives, a cocktail onion, a lemon twist, and a pickled green bean. Contrary to what its name suggests, it’s offered at all times of the day.

A clear martini in a glass sits next to a sidecar with various garnishes
Two Martini Lunch at Troquet
Brian Samuels Photography

Saltie Girl

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Speaking of martini garnishes, Saltie Girl is not to be outdone. The tinned seafood hot spot adorns its Saltie cocktail with — what else? — caviar, perched atop pickled onions and olives. The vodka martini is served in a carafe on ice beside the garnishes so it’s still frosty-cold when it graces your glass.

A hand pours a vodka martini from a carafe to a glass, and garnishes, including caviar, chill over ice nearby
The Saltie cocktail at Saltie Girl
Mike Cotrone

Straight Law at Taberna De Haro

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Inside Brookline’s longstanding tapas restaurant Taberna de Haro is Straight Law, a top-notch cocktail bar focusing on gin and sherry. It takes its name from the Straight Law cocktail, a classic from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book made with two parts dry Manzanilla sherry and one part Plymouth Gin. Naturally this is the first drink on Staight Law’s menu. And though it drinks like a martini, the two-to-one ratio of sherry to gin means that it’s a lower-ABV cocktail. “So you can have one and still have wine with dinner,” says owner Deborah Hansen.

A clear martini sits in an elegant small glass with a citrus peel
The Straight Law cocktail at Straight Law at Taberna de Haro
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

Shore Leave

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Shore Leave proves that even a martini can go tiki with the Air-Conditioned Eden. A pineapple-infused mix of bianco and dry vermouths, Monkey 47 gin, and agricole rhum, the cocktail manages to be light and tropical without compromising its spirit-forward martini roots.

An almost-clear martini is served in a small elegant glass. The blurred background is tropical-style wallpaper.
The Air-Conditioned Eden at Shore Leave
Reagan Byrne

Martinis are the focus at Orfano, Tiffani Faison’s glitzy new Italian-American restaurant in Fenway. The menu features four different options, including the Vesper, Martinez, and Tuxedo #2. But it’s the Martini Alla Cart that has everyone talking. Beverage director Brian Callahan has curated a mobile martini cart that will come to prepare the perfect gin martini tableside. The go-to version is a classic mix of Citadelle gin, dry vermouth, and orange bitters.

A bartender clad in a white coat and black bowtie pours a martini through a strainer into a glass
The Martini Alla Cart at Orfano
JM Leach

Black Lamb

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The cocktail menu at brand-new South End brasserie Black Lamb is all about classic cocktails with a twist, and the dirty martini is no exception. A straight vodka martini is dressed up with a black pepper and olive oil infusion, as well as a dash of olive brine and a few drops of saline to highlight the drink’s savory notes. It’s a rich and spicy take on the traditional recipe.

A deep orange martini sits on a black windowsill, garnished with a toothpick of olives
The dirty martini at Black Lamb
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

Sarma

A light yellow martini variation, garnished with citrus peel, sits on a light wooden table
Prince’s Pear at Sarma
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

As soon as Sarma bartender Jonathan Buonomo got a whiff of the restaurant’s new bergamot rooibos tea, he knew he needed to work it into a gin martini. The tea makes an appearance in the Prince’s Pear as a bergamot tincture, mixed with a two-to-one ratio of Seattle-made Aloo Gin and slightly sweet Dolin Blanc vermouth. Aromatic grapefruit oil expressed over the top provides the finishing touch to this spirit-forward standout on Sarma’s menu.

A light yellow martini variation, garnished with citrus peel, sits on a light wooden table
Prince’s Pear at Sarma
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

Trina's Starlite Lounge

A pale yellow martini is garnished with green olives and a citrus peel
The All Heart 50/50 at Trina’s Starlite Lounge
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

If you’re used to very dry martinis that have barely glanced at a bottle of vermouth, then the All Heart 50/50 at Trina’s will be a breath of fresh air. Named for the venue’s PR company (whose owner is a huge fan of the drink), this dirty martini is made with equal parts Monkey 47 gin and Carpano dry vermouth, four dashes of house-made orange bitters, and a bar spoon of olive brine. “A little bit of brine is just perfect,” says Trina’s co-owner Josh Childs. He garnishes the drink with both olives and a large twist of lemon. 

A pale yellow martini is garnished with green olives and a citrus peel
The All Heart 50/50 at Trina’s Starlite Lounge
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

The Longfellow Bar

A martini sits on a stone wall outside, in front of a brick wall
Atlantic City at the Longfellow Bar
Nicole Kanner

This dirty martini named for a track off Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska (Atlantic City) is no longer on the Longfellow Bar’s album-themed cocktail menu (the bar has moved on to Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy a Thrill), but avid fans of the drink have necessitated that the bar keep a steady supply of olive brine on hand. The Atlantic City can be made with your choice of vodka or gin and is served, as the menu once said, “filthy.”

A martini sits on a stone wall outside, in front of a brick wall
Atlantic City at the Longfellow Bar
Nicole Kanner

Russell House Tavern

A pale yellow martini in a small glass sits on a dark wood bar
Means of Preservation at Russell House Tavern
Russell House Tavern [Official Photo]

Available at Russell House Tavern, the Means of Preservation is a Boston classic that was created by John Gertsen at Drink (based on a similar cocktail called the Ephemeral). The inclusion of sweet and floral St-Germain is perfectly balanced by the savory, peppery flavor of celery bitters. Express some grapefruit oil on top, and you have the most interesting — and delicious — martini in town.

A pale yellow martini in a small glass sits on a dark wood bar
Means of Preservation at Russell House Tavern
Russell House Tavern [Official Photo]

The Hourly Oyster House

A blush-colored martini with a sherry and gin base sits on a marble bar top
The Jabberwocky at the Hourly Oyster House
The Hourly Oyster House [Official Photo]

Just around the corner and from the same team as Russell House Tavern, the Hourly Oyster House is also mixing up a unique gin martini, the Jabberwocky. This lower-ABV cocktail, adapted from a classic recipe called the Jabberwock, is made with Manzanilla sherry, Citadelle gin, Lillet Blanc, and orange bitters. The briny sherry makes it the perfect pairing for oysters.

A blush-colored martini with a sherry and gin base sits on a marble bar top
The Jabberwocky at the Hourly Oyster House
The Hourly Oyster House [Official Photo]

Loyal Nine

A pale yellow martini, garnished with a bold red flower and a dehydrated sauerkraut rim, sits on the edge of a wooden bar
The dirty martini at Loyal Nine
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

Fermentation is a big part of Loyal Nine’s American colonial-inspired cuisine, and it naturally plays a role on the drink menu as well. The dirty martini is made with Greylock gin from the Berkshires, a hefty pour of sauerkraut juice, and a touch of dry vermouth. The garnish varies seasonally; currently you can expect a nasturtium leaf and flower. A dehydrated sauerkraut rim adds additional salt and brine with each sip.

A pale yellow martini, garnished with a bold red flower and a dehydrated sauerkraut rim, sits on the edge of a wooden bar
The dirty martini at Loyal Nine
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

The Automatic

A nearly clear dirty martini is served in a no-frills fluted rocks glass with an olive garnish
The dirty martini at the Automatic
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

The Automatic dresses up its dirty martini with Citadelle gin and a lemon-thyme brine made by soaking fresh thyme and lemon peels in salt water, giving the drink a bitter, saline kick. There’s no vermouth to be found here, and the drink is served in the Automatic’s typical no-frills fashion, in a fluted rocks glass with an olive garnish.

A nearly clear dirty martini is served in a no-frills fluted rocks glass with an olive garnish
The dirty martini at the Automatic
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

Our Fathers

A clear martini sits on a gray bar. Modern lime green bar seats are visible along the edge.
The martini at Our Fathers
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

Allston deli and gin bar Our Fathers knows there’s more than one way to make a good martini. The martini menu features seven variations: bone dry, extra dry, dry, wet, dirty, Gibson, and the Duke (chilled Plymouth gin with no dilution). Each of these can be made with any of Our Fathers’ 154 gins, so the possibilities are nearly endless.

A clear martini sits on a gray bar. Modern lime green bar seats are visible along the edge.
The martini at Our Fathers
Katie Stryjewski/Eater

Better Sorts Social Club

A martini is served in an elegant gold-lined black coupe and garnished with a cocktail onion, presented on a dark background
The Cacio e Pepe Martini at Better Sorts Social Club
Caitlin Cunningham Photography

Better Sorts is known for its creative and culinary cocktails, and the Cacio e Pepe Martini is the perfect example. Former beverage director Naomi Levy combined a vodka martini with the classic pasta dish by infusing Dolin dry vermouth with gouda and creating a black pepper pasta water syrup. The drink is served in a gorgeous gold-lined black coupe and garnished with a cocktail onion.

A martini is served in an elegant gold-lined black coupe and garnished with a cocktail onion, presented on a dark background
The Cacio e Pepe Martini at Better Sorts Social Club
Caitlin Cunningham Photography

Boston Chops

A clear martini is in a glass, garnished with green olives. A glass vessel filled with clear liquid sits in a metal ice bucket next to the martini.
Steakhouse martini service at Boston Chops DTX
Andy Ryan Photography

At Boston Chops’ downtown location, the steakhouse keeps things retro with its ’70s-style martini service. Absolut Elyx is shaken with Dolin vermouth until it’s extra cold, and it’s served with an olive garnish and a sidecar on ice.