The History of the Martini CocktailWritten by lanreePosted on 08 13, 2016
The Martini is arguably one of the most iconic cocktails. It’s history however is a bit murky and shrouded in quite a bit of mystery.
One theory points to the town of Martinez, in California where it is claimed that the drink was invented during the mid-1800s Gold Rush. Legend has it that a gold miner who struck a fortune decided to celebrate at a local bar. He requested Champagne, which was unavailable, so the bartender insisted on concocting another beverage made from ingredients he had on hand: gin, vermouth, bitters, maraschino liqueur, and a slice of lemon. Thus, “The Martinez Special” was born. The miner enjoyed the cocktail so much that he tried to order it again San Francisco, where, of course, the bartender required instruction in its preparation. Thus the popularity of this sweet, bracing drink, spread and it was first published in the Bartender’s Manual in the 1880s.
Another theory by Barnaby Conrad III, author of a book on the Martini’s origin, claims that the drink was, in fact, invented in San Francisco, after a miner requested a pick-me-up in the city on his way to Martinez. There are also assertions that it originated in New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel. Still others assert that the drink was named after “Martini & Rossi” vermouth, which was first created in the mid-1800s. Apparently in the interest of brevity, the drink became known as the “Martini.”
Regardless of its origins, one thing that people can agree on is that the martini has been associated with both rich and famous people for years, from FDR to Frank Sinatra and James Bond. The famous line, I must get out of these wet clothes and into a dry Martini, has said to have been the invention of Peter Benchley, who was an extra on the set of the 1935 MGM film China Seas, starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow. W.C. Fields was said to have started the day with two Double Martinis, and reportedly carried an oversized martini shaker with him on set each day.
And after James Bond made the vodka martini his drink of choice, it became a symbol of what a chic cocktail looked like. The vodka martini has become a staple of the finest bars ever since, and its versatility makes it one of the truly great cocktails.
While there are many different types of martinis, including the Lemon Drop, the Manhattan, and the Cosmopolitan, the principle ingredient in every martini is gin, followed by Vermouth.