When you think classic American cocktail, just one comes to mind a martini with three olives. We celebrate this American classic on June 19 with National Martini Day, by stirring ourselves a nice martini and raising those v-shaped glasses high.
There are many different stories about how this cocktail came to be America’s cocktail. The first known instance took place in the 1870s in San Francisco at the Occidental Hotel. It was reported that bartender Jerry Thomas invented the drink for a miner who wanted something special in exchange for a gold nugget. Jerry decided to name the drink after the city the miner was headed back to Martinez, California. This martini however resembles nothing of today’s martini; it was a dash of bitters, two dashes of maraschino, wineglass full of sweet vermouth, shot of sweetened gin and quarter lemon.
An Italian immigrant Martini di Arma di Taggia a bartender at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York, claimed to be the creator of martini right before WWI. He stated that he named the drink after the Martini & Henry rifle the British army once used. This was because the drink gave a strong kick, just like the rifle did when shot. His recipe contained dry gin and dry vermouth, equal parts of both served in a glass.
As the years went on, less and less vermouth was used in martinis. Now if you want a vermouth and gin martin, it is 1 part vermouth and 6 parts gin and isn’t just a martini, but a dry martini.
Just like anything, celebrities started making the martini famous. Gin really started taking off in the early 50s and then vodka martins in the 70s. Celebrities would drink martinis in movies and advertisements, then to keep the gin martini sells up, the celebrities drank martinis when in public.
One fictional character really made the martini famous, not American, but a British orphan, the names Bond James Bond. By the way my favorite fictional character just a bit of Tiff trivia for the day. If you’re a fan of the books, you’ll know he only drank the drink once in the book Casino Royale. The martini was made by his love Vesper, half gin and half vodka with a twist lemon peel. This half and half represents her secret life of being a double agent. While in the movies, he drinks martinis and he coined the famous line shaken not stirred.
The martin has come a long way since 1870s; it’s gone thru multiple makeovers, many ingredients and different glasses. There are no so many different versions of martinis, from dry martini to an appletini. However you like your martini, from sweet to dry, don’t forget to go out there this Friday night and drink your martini.
Not looking to go out on the town, but want to drink at home on the couch (I’m right there with you), check out some amazing recipes I found on Pinterest @ Pinterest.com/Tiff-Setzler/Shaken-Not-Stirred. If you are in Pittsburgh, check out this Buzz N The Burgh to see where you can get a great martini @ BuzzNTheBurgh.com/National-Martini-Day.
Also, please drink responsible. Don’t drink and drive, need a ride call a cab or ask to sleep at a friend’s house. But, jus don’t drink and drive, you’re not putting just yourself at risk, but everyone else on the road and sidewalk.