The 10 best martinis in Chicago

Ice cold, dirty or with an olive, Chicago serves up some of the best martinis packed with gin and vermouth

Photograph: Paul Strabbing

There are seemingly endless ways to make a martini—dirty, dry, perfect, shaken, stirred, with a twist, on the rocks, strained—the list goes on and on, but the components stay the same. The gin and vermouth–based drink can come bright and easy to stomach or can pack a heavy punch. Whether you like yours cold as ice or with a piney gin, we found our favorites at Chicago's best cocktail bars, steakhouses and seafood joints.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to cocktails in Chicago

Martini at Queen Mary Tavern

If you like your martini as cold as it can get, this one’s for you. It’s served in a traditional martini glass but comes with a carafe filled with more of the drink set inside crushed ice to keep it icy. Made with a rotating selection of gin and vermouth, topped with orange bitters and garnished with a lemon peel, this one’s not for the faint of heart. $12.

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Ukrainian Village

Create your own martini at Cherry Circle Room


This is the choose-your-own-adventure of martinis. The Cherry Circle Room lets you pick all of your components. Gins vary in strengths of juniper and vermouths range from dry to extra dry. You even have your choice of garnish—olive, onion or lemon twist. While your bartender can walk you through each of your choices, we were big fans of the Aviation Gin with Vya Extra Dry Vermouth and a lemon twist. $12.

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Savory at Maple & Ash

At Maple and Ash, the cocktail menu begins with two pages detailing the history of the martini, with a corresponding house martini for each era, starting in 1848. Our favorite is the Savory, a “modern expression” with St. George Terroir gin, La Quintinye Extra Dry vermouth and Bitter Truth cucumber bitters. It’s bright and refreshing and garnished with a sprig of thyme for an herbaceous touch. $16.

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Rush & Division

Martini at CH Distillery

The martini at CH is made with your choice of one of the distillery’s spirits—choose from CH Vodka, Key Gin or London Dry Gin and your pick of an olive or a twist. It’s a strong one that definitely lets the spirit shine through. Our favorite? The Key Gin with a twist. $12.

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West Loop

Martini at Best Intentions

One of the best things about Best Intentions is the care the bartenders take in shaping each of their classic cocktails. The ratios on the martini is widely debated, but Best Intentions uses a 2:1 gin to vermouth ratio, with Rutte Dry gin and Dolin Dry vermouth. It’s served stirred straight up with a twist, but if you’d like, they’ll serve it on the rocks as well. $10.

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Logan Square

Make it at home

How to make a martini

We turned to Yael Vengroff, head bartender at the Spare Room in Los Angeles, for her take on a 50/50 martini that you can whip up at home

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By: Erin Kuschner