A Brief History of The Martini

A Brief History of The Martini

martini-vintage-flashcard-mynameisjz-jzWhile I was doing my research on the origin of the gin and tonic, I also found out a great little tidbit about James Bond’s drink of choice. I am a big fan of Martinis, be they gin or vodka, regular or dirty (with olive juice). And, just like the secret agent, I also prefer mine shaken, not stirred.

The Martini actually started life known as The Martinez. The story goes that a miner during the California Gold Rush hit it rich in 1849. He was on his way to San Francisco, but stopped off in Martinez, CA, on his way. He wanted to celebrate his good fortune, so he ordered champagne. Unfortunately, the bar didn’t carry it, but the bartender told the miner he had something even better to offer, and made him “The Martinez Special.” The miner liked it so much that he ordered a round on the house for the whole bar.

ROKK Cal. Martini flatWhen the miner later arrived in San Francisco, he ordered a Martinez Special. The San Francisco bartender, of course, had never heard of this drink, as the Martinez bartender had actually made it up on the spot with the booze he had lying around. The miner said it was made of three measures of gin, one of vermouth (also known as “strong wine” at that time), add ice and stir. The San Franciscans also loved the drink to much that it began to spread around the city, and later the world. But, Martinez Special was too difficult to say, so it got shortened to Martini. Later, the Italian company, Martini and Rossi, began marketing a special vermouth meant for this particular cocktail.

What about the Glass?

The roots of the iconic glassware we drink our Martinis out of today actually predate the drink. Cocktail glasses had stems, like wine glasses, in order to keep the drink chilled without needing ice in the glass (and so watering down the drink). The conical shape was also part of the traditional cocktail glasses of the era, but over time they were altered slightly and morphed into a more specific shape with a longer stem and wider rim. The larger mouth of the glass allowed the gin to oxygenate more, thus improving the flavor and allowing the different botanical elements to present.

Please enjoy your Martinis responsibly and stay splendid!

Want to get even deeper “in the spirit”? Check out these brief histories of champagne and apple cider.

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