There is “The Martini” and then there are martinis and, quite often the latter has little or no resemblance to the original. The classic Gin Martini, made of gin and dry vermouth, will always remain a classic and a favorite for many. There is much debate among connoisseurs as to the ratio, style of gin (or vodka), and garnish that is the best, but most will agree that the gin-vermouth combination is one of the best cocktails ever created.
It was the love for this classic drink that spurred an entire movement, a separate martini culture within the broader cocktail scene. Fancy, short drinks served in cocktail glasses that are often quite strong and come in almost any flavor imaginable have come to be known as 'martinis.' Some, like the Manhattan and Rob Roy, are as classic as their gin cousin, while other, far newer cocktails mix everything from apples to chocolate, coffee to hot peppers into the little 'tinis.
Yesterday was National Martini Day! Although the exact origin of the martini is unknown, this iconic drink has earned a permanent place in the pantheon of classic cocktails. The first printed recipe for a “Martinez” cocktail appeared in a bartending manual published in San Francisco in 1887. However, historians disagree over whether the beverage actually originated on the West Coast. In 1911, a New York City bartender named Martini di Arma di Taggia began serving a cocktail made with gin, vermouth, orange bitters, and an olive garnish. The martini gained widespread popularity among Manhattan socialites, and has been associated with New York ever since.
The biggest battle involving taking credit for the martini is in California where the cities of San Francisco and Martinez are squabbling about bragging rights. The martini can be found in the 1887 manual of bartender Jerry Thomas from San Francisco and people believe that he may have invented the drink as early as the 1860s. However, Martinez says that the martini was originally the “Martinez Special” and was served to a gold miner who hit it big and was celebrating. Martinez says the miner liked the drink so much that when he got to San Francisco, he told a local bartender how to make it. It seems like people lean more toward San Francisco’s story, but the story from Martinez is more fun.
There are other stories, but the only other logical one we found involved an Italian vermouth maker, Martini & Rossi. Customers may have originally asked for a martini simply because it used that product (they weren’t too creative back then). That product dates back to 1863.
Today, 50% of all cocktails are served in a martini glass. Some of the most famous (historical and fictional) martini lovers include: John D. Rockefeller, Humphrey Bogart, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Clark Gable, Ernest Hemingway, and James Bond.
Martinis are one of the most important classic cocktails, so it is only natural that someone out there decided it should have its own nationally recognized “day.”
The Martini is such a big part of our culture now that we began to wonder where it actually came from. Who is responsible for making this cocktail happen? Well, we put on our studious researcher hats and dug into the deepest corners of the Internet to find some answers.
You are probably familiar with the many current variations of the martini, like the always popular apple-tini, but the basic martini just started out as gin and vermouth. Unfortunately, that’s just about the only thing in the martini’s history that we are pretty sure of. When it comes down to who actually invented the drink…well, that’s a little sketchier.