Classic Cocktail History: The Martini

It will be difficult to find a cocktail with more notoriety and legend than the great American classic: The Martini. Famous in literature, art and film, the Martini has grown in popularity to become the most recognizable cocktail since the early 1900's. Its relatively easy production through prohibition ensured its survival and gained the admiration from the likes of Dean Martin,

Winston Churchill, Humphrey Bogart and even fictional movie icon James Bond. So what makes a martini, a martini? The answer is simple: Gin. A martini can only be called so if it is produced with gin, however there are three distinct variations.

A Dry Martini

Made famous in the 1920's, the dry martini consists of 6 parts London dry gin and 1 part dry vermouth. The preparation is the same as other iterations, mix your contents in a glass, shake and strain into a martini glass.

A Dirty Martini

Maintaining the 6:1 ratio and preparation, all you have to do is add a splash of olive juice.

A perfect Martini

The difference in this mixture is adding 1 part dry as well as 1 part sweet vermouth with your gin.

There are many theories as to the martini's origin. One of two theories credits Italian vermouth maker Allessandro Martini. In 1863, Alessandro began marketing his vermouth under the brand "Martini" which predates any other recorded references to the cocktail. Another theory suggests that sometime in the early 1860's, a predecessor to the martini called the "Martinez" (made with equal parts Marichino, vermouth and gin) made a name for itself around the town of Martinez. Some people suggest it was the nearby Occidental hotel who concocted the drink for patrons waiting to take the ferry across the bay, others suggest it was a famous bartender in their town.

The Martinez

  • Take 1 dash of Boker's bitters

  • 2 dashes of Maraschino

  • 1 pony [1 fl oz] of Old Tom gin

  • 1 wine-glass [2 fl oz] of [sweet/Italian] vermouth

  • 2 small lumps of ice

  • Shake up thoroughly, and strain into a large cocktail glass. Put a quarter of a slice of lemon in the glass, and serve. If the guest prefers it very sweet, add two dashes of gum syrup.

However you choose to enjoy your next martini, remember these important words from Jackie Gleason:

"A man must defend his home, his wife, his children, and his martini."

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