Martini Quotes

"I'm not talking a cup of cheap gin splashed over an ice cube.

I'm talking satin, fire and ice; Fred Astaire in a glass; surgical cleanliness, insight.. comfort; redemption and absolution. I'm talking MARTINI.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Martini Genesis

From Humble Beginnings to Understated Elegance

      In this, the inaugural installment of my Martini blog, I will delve into the history of what may arguably be the finest liquid refreshment in this universe.  I say "this universe" as there seems to be a few in the theoretical physics realm who believe in the multiverse theory. Clearly that smacks of heresy.  Pope Francis will need to be handing out excommunication cards like a Las Vegas dealer.  But I digress.
First, let's clear the deck.  I am a traditionalist in the strictest sense of the word.  The Martini is made with Gin and Vermouth, nothing else. There is nothing fruity in a properly made Martini, and do not even mention Vodka.  Just because a beverage is put in a conical glass does not make it a Martini.  The beauty and elegance of the Martini stems from the simple, yet sublime fusion of just a few ingredients with a garnish.  There is simply no need to meddle with a proven winner.  As H.L. Mencken said, "Martinis are the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet.

The Past

      As alcohol and a clear remembrance of things past (Proust reference) do not go hand in hand, the history of the Martini is not exactly clear. Some would say it is a bit "dirty" in that regard.  The commonly referenced creation story dates the Martini to the "Gold Rush" days in California circa 1849.  A miner who was returning to San Francisco after making his fortune, stopped into the town of Martinez, seeking a celebratory drink.   Venturing into a local watering hole, he ordered up a glass of Champagne.  As there was none to be had, the bartender suggested a "Martinez Special".

The Martinez: Forerunner of the Martini

Dash of bitters
2 dashes maraschino liqueur
1 pony Old Tom gin
1 wine glass vermouth
1/4 slice lemon

      As can be seen, we have to do away with the bitters and maraschino liqueur. The miner continued on to San Francisco where he walked into a bar and ordered a Martinez Special. The bartender there had never heard of the drink and asked for the recipe. The miner could only recall three parts gin and a very dry Sauterne wine. An olive was added and a legendary cocktail was born. The San Francisco version is that the miner showed up at the Occidental Hotel bar, where bartender Jerry Thomas, created the recipe which the miner then brought to the city of Martinez.  Both cities claim title to the iconic cocktail. 
Other theories do exist as to the origin of the Martini, though none are quite as interesting. The fact that it is made with vermouth, of which there is a very prominent Italian manufacturer, Martini and Rossi, lends credence to another possible genesis. Cocktails were frequently referred to in very generic terms back in the day. So, a Gin cocktail with martini vermouth may have readily been called a Martini.  Still others assert that it was created in the New York Knickerbocker Hotel by Martini di Arma di Taggia, an Italian immigrant bartender.  

However humble the nineteenth century Martini's origin may be, the symbol into which it has been transformed in the twentieth century can not be overstated.  Infused in literature and film by such luminaries as Ernest Hemingway, Jack London and Humphrey Bogart, the Martini became a symbol of social status.  It permeated WWII politics, imbibed by Roosevelt and Churchill.   Everybody who was anybody was drinking Martinis and fortunately for us, the trend continues.......


  1. I love this topic. Can't wait for more

  2. Great blog, I can't wait for more!

  3. Wheres the Hendricks?

    1. Hendricks is absolutely one of my favorites. The cucumber undertones are so unique and I will need to discuss it. I plan on doing some research tonight!