The martini is a cocktail made of gin and dry vermouth, then garnished with a lemon twist or olive. Don’t let the small “m” fool you: the martini is considered by many as the king of the cocktails.
Despite the cocktail’s fame, its true inception has mostly been speculation. Its name may have originated in 1863 from the Martini brand (with a capital M), which is the name of an Italian vermouth maker.
It may have also evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez, which was served at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco in the 1860s. The Martinez name came from the regular hotel patrons who take an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez.
The Martinez folk say the drink was first concocted by a bartender in the town. Another theory posits that the drink was named after the town, which is corroborated in Jerry Thomas’ 1887 edition of the “Bartender’s Guide, How to Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks,” where a “Martinez Cocktail” was first described.
By 1922 the drink is mixed using London dry gin and dry vermouth with a ratio of 2:1, stirred in a mixing glass with ice cubes, with the optional orange or aromatic bitters, then strained into a chilled cocktail glass.
Through the years, there have been a number of variants produced, including the following:
- A dry martini is mixed with dry, white vermouth.
- A dirty martini contains a splash of olive brine or olive juice and is typically garnished with an olive.
- A perfect martini uses equal amounts of sweet and dry vermouth.
- Fictional superspy James Bond likes his vodka martinis to be “shaken, not stirred.” The proper name for this drink is a Bradford martini.