The Martini cocktail is one of the most popular mixed-alcohol beverages in the world, coming with its own distinct glass. The drink speaks a lot about a person’s personality – it has become a signature drink for men of style and class.
Getting served a cocktail in a martini glass does not necessarily mean its a martini cocktail. For most purists, the drink is made up of gin and vermouth, and nothing more. But there may be more to this classic cocktail than we might know of.
History of Martini Cocktail
Truth be told, no one knows exactly the origin of the martini. However, there is a general theory that most people have come to accept. The story holds that the drink evolved from Martinez, which in turn comes from the Manhattan. In the early 1860s, people frequented the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco for a glass of cocktail before taking an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez.
The people of Martinez are said to have made claims to the drink being prepared by a bartender in their town. A bartender named Jerry Thomas is said to have invented a drink for a miner who wanted something special in exchange for a gold nugget. Since the miner was heading back to Martinez, California, Jerry named it for the city – Martinez.
Another account holds that Italian immigrant bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia invented the drink at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City before World War I. His recipe contained dry gin and dry vermouth, in equal parts, and orange bitters.
Another legend claims that the cocktail may have gotten its name when an Italian vermouth maker started marketing their product under the brand name of Martini in 1863, after its director Alessandro Martini. In another account, it was named for the Martini & Henry rifle used by the British Army for 20 years between 1870 and 1890. Both the rifle and the drink delivered a strong kick
The first known written recipe of the martini is credited to O. H. Bryson’s 1884 cocktail book, The Modern Bartender, where the drink is referred to as a variation of the Manhattan. Also, in Harry Johnson’s Bartender Manual, published in 1888, he lists the ingredients of the cocktail as old tom gin, sweet vermouth, orange curacao, gum, Boker’s bitters and a lemon twist. However, there were numerous cocktails with similar names and ingredients to the modern-day martini that were published in bartending guides of the 19th century.
In spite of the uncertain roots of the martini, the drink gained popularity during the Prohibition. The ease of the manufacture of illicit gin in the US created a huge market for the bloom of martini cocktail in the mid-20th century.
Marketing of gin and vodka by liquor companies in the 1950s and 1970s respectively also played a huge role in making the martini popular. Also, product placement in films, as well as celebrity endorsements gave credence to the drink. With celebrities like Ernest Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich, David Niven and Humphrey Bogart seen drinking martinis in public or on screen, the thirst for the drink grew rapidly.
James Bond fans will confirm that the fictional character has done much for the popularity of the martini cocktail. Despite drinking martini only once in Ian Flemming’s James Bond books, the fictional British secret agent has been improved the marketability of the cocktail, even making the popular phrase “Shaken, not stirred.”