THE DRINK NATION IS A FREE RESOURCE FOR FINDING EVERYTHING AWESOME ABOUT DRINKING IN YOUR LOCATION
Home Bar Project Leaderboard Below Navigation

Shaken or Stirred? A Short History to Celebrate National Martini Day


A Del Frisco's bartender makes an "in and out" martini in the video above

“One martini is all right. Two is too many, and three is not enough.” — James Thurber

What a great month is June for serious drinkers. Just last week we celebrated National Bourbon Day, and now we come upon a day dedicated to a white spirit concoction — a creation journalist H. L. Mencken called "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.”

The martini has been in the cocktail lexicon since the late 1800s, though the exact origin is still debated. The precursor may have been a drink called the Martinez, served at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco in the 1860s, which was a wine glass full of dry vermouth and a shot of gin. In the 1888 Bartenders Manual, a recipe was published that called for “half a wine glass of Old Tom Gin, half a wine glass of vermouth.” And then there was the Italian vermouth maker — whose product is currently sold here as Martini & Rossi — who in 1863 began marketing their product under the brand name Martini.

During Prohibition, gin was relatively easy to produce (in a bathtub, quite often) and so was fortified wine, so the martini flourished as a speakeasy specialty. By the 1940s, the proportion of vermouth had shrunk to a ratio of around four to one — probably as a result of cleaner, better tasting gin produced legally after Repeal.

Whatever the proportions, the spirits were poured over ice and stirred together, then strained into a glass, the shape of which has inherited the martini name. Then came perhaps the drink’s most famous proponent, James Bond, whose author had him throw tradition to the wind (and created a new one) by ordering a martini “shaken, not stirred.”

Also thanks in part to Bond, the martini became drier and drier — a term that in this case refers to the amount of fortified wine added to the mix. (Somewhat confusingly, the “drier” the martini, the less dry vermouth added.) By the 1950s and ‘60s — the Mad Men heyday of the three-martini lunch — vermouths on the U.S. market has suffered in quality, and many people would drink chilled gin nearly straight.

The martini fell out of favor until a resurgence in the 1990s, which brought back cocktails served in the martini glass, if not actual martinis themselves. Bars began serving variations on the drink, many made with vodka — the most popular U.S. spirit at the time — in combinations with sweet or fruity additives. The “choco-tini,” “apple-tini” and other similar creations filled menus of clubs and bars.

While some may enjoy those drinks, it’s the traditional gin-and-vermouth (and olive) combination that best suits today’s classic cocktail renaissance. Where did the olives come in? Again, no one knows, but the addition of the salty garnish does add extra flavor, and was likely developed back when liquor was much less refined and its flavor had to be covered up. If you love that olive taste, ask for a “dirty martini,” made with an extra splash of olive brine. Order a skewer of cocktail onions with your gin-and-vermouth instead and you have a Gibson. A twist of lemon is also a common garnish, especially if you substitute vodka for gin — a “vodka martini.”

Shaken or stirred? Some think that shaking “bruises” the spirits, breaking down the flavors of the vermouth too much, and insist that stirring is the way to go. However, some relish the cloudy result of vigorous shaking, where bits of ice actually become suspended in the drink, making a bracing, refreshing sip.

What's your favorite way to make the iconic drink?

Bootom photo via Flickr user rob_moody


Tags: Photos & Videos
Recent Articles

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Building in Brooklyn to Transform into the Classic Ghostbusters HQ For a Weekend

Building in Brooklyn to Transform into the Classic Ghostbusters HQ For a Weekend

BBQ Films is recreating the Ghostbusters HQ for three nights only in Brooklyn....read more ›

by Alexander Frane May 11, 2016
Russian River Plans Mega-Brewery in Windsor, CA

Russian River Plans Mega-Brewery in Windsor, CA

Russian River already has a brewpub in downtown Santa Rosa, but now the company is planning to build a new one in Windsor, CA, and it's going to be 85...read more ›

by Alexander Frane May 11, 2016
Watery Beer-Like Beverage Wants to Appeal to the Stupidest Possible Citizens of This Country By Renaming Itself 'America'
by The Drink Nation May 10, 2016
SPONSORED
Drink Nation Store Rectangle
Bar Rescue's Jon Taffer Made a Terrible Manhattan on National TV

Bar Rescue's Jon Taffer Made a Terrible Manhattan on National TV

Bar Rescue's Jon Taffer appeared on Meredith Viera's talk show and made a seriously bad Manhattan....read more ›

by Ryan Hudak May 5, 2016
Hop-Con 4.0 Is Like Comic-Con For Stone Brewing: Beer By Wil Wheaton, Aisha Tyler, & More

Hop-Con 4.0 Is Like Comic-Con For Stone Brewing: Beer By Wil Wheaton, Aisha Tyler, & More

Hop-Con 4.0 is the convergence of brewing culture and nerd culture. This day long festival hosted by Stone Bre...read more ›

by Alexander Frane May 4, 2016
Hamilton is Getting Its Own Beer

Hamilton is Getting Its Own Beer

The Broadway smash hit Hamilton now has its own beer....read more ›

by The Drink Nation May 3, 2016
The Best Breweries Within 100 Miles of Philadelphia

The Best Breweries Within 100 Miles of Philadelphia

Consider this your Philly brewery bucket list. We've listed the best breweries around the Philadelphia area....read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio May 2, 2016
The Inventor of St. Germain, Robert J. Cooper, Has Passed Away at 39

The Inventor of St. Germain, Robert J. Cooper, Has Passed Away at 39

The inventor of St. Germain passed away on Monday, April 25, 2016....read more ›

by Alexander Frane May 2, 2016
Make This Purple Cocktail To Honor Prince's Memory

Make This Purple Cocktail To Honor Prince's Memory

Make this delicious purple cocktail to honor Prince's memory....read more ›

by The Drink Nation Apr 21, 2016
This Late Night L.A. Restaurant is Serving Boozy Bowls of Classic Kids Cereal

This Late Night L.A. Restaurant is Serving Boozy Bowls of Classic Kids Cereal

Grab a boozy, late-night breakfast at L.A.'s newest concept....read more ›

by Alexander Frane Apr 19, 2016
SPONSORED
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close