Martini is a cocktail that is made by blending red, sweet and dry vermouth and gin. This drink is served in a tall cocktail glass also known as the ‘martini glass’ and is usually garnished with olives and at times with lemon peel. A martini is considered among the best mixed alcoholic beverages of America with H.L. Mencken referring to the drink as “the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet”. Though, gin is one of the basic ingredients of this tangy cocktail, it is at times replaced with vodka. This blend of vermouth and vodka is known as Vodka Martini or “Vodkatini”. Because of the potency, it is advisable to consume this popular cocktail in small proportions. There are innumerable variations to the martini recipe to suit varied personal preferences. Though sweetness of the cocktail can be obtained by adding fresh fruit juice, this needs to be controlled else one can easily lose the real flavor of the Martini.
History of Martini Recipe
Martini and its origins are as mixed as the drink. Just like all other popular cocktails, this blended alcoholic beverage too has many claims to its creation. There is a less possible theory of the drink being first created by a bartender named Martini at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City in the year 1911. However, the most accepted and possible theory about the real origin of the martini recipe goes back to the year 1862, when a cocktail by this name was prepared and served at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, to the people who took the evening ferry across the bay to a nearby town called Martinez. That is how the name “Martini” came about for this cocktail. Over time, especially around 1960’s, this cocktail was dubbed as “the three-martini lunch”, because it became an opulent style statement of the business executives. This cocktail has been an integral part of the North American nightlife and has even gained popularity through Ian Fleming’s James Bond movies, where Bond always ordered his martini ‘shaken, not stirred’, as a way to stand out, though the preferred way is to stir the drink rather than shake it, so as to savor it better. Today, there are innumerable variations to the martini recipe and over time a lot of fictional and legendary historical figures have favored the sophisticated Martini.
Preparation of Martini
Martini is a cocktail that was originally prepared by mixing two ounces of the Italian Martini & Rossi’s sweet vermouth, one ounce of Old Tom sweet gin, two dashes of maraschino cherry liquid, and one dash of bitters. This cocktail was garnished with a twist of lemon after the contents were shaken. With time, especially by the 19th century, the martini recipe was simplified, with half a jigger of French vermouth and English gin being mixed with two dashes of bitters. The cocktail was stirred and not shaken before it was served with a garnish of olive. Though, there have been and still are many variations to the original martini recipe, the perfect martini is prepared by mixing equal parts of dry and sweet vermouth and gin. This is garnished with mostly olives and in some cases (by choice) with a twist of lemon. This version of the drink is also known as the “Perfect Rob Roy”. But the one martini recipe that goes by the IBA standards is the one where the vermouth and gin are mixed in a proportion of 5:1. These two are poured into a mixing glass with ice cubes and then strained into a chilled martini glass. Olives and in some cases lemon twist are used for garnishing the Martini.
Variations of Martini Recipe
Martini has evolved as a drink of the classy and sophisticated; however, with the easy availability of illegal gin, the drink became a favorite with the masses as well and this continued even after the repeal of the Prohibition.
Martini recipe has changed and evolved over time based on individual likes and dislikes and some people who contributed to this are some legendary historical figures such as Winston Churchill, J. Robert Oppenheimer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Cary Grant, F.D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Truman Capote, etc.
Today, there are innumerable variations to the original martini recipe to suit individual tastes that range from using fresh fruit juices to colored liqueurs to splashes of cream. Some popular versions of this cocktail are –
- Vespa Martini – This version evolved based on the fictitious James Bond character, who drank his martini “shaken, not stirred”, with the drink consisting of three parts of Gordon’s gin, one part Russian vodka, and half-measure Kina Lillet aperitif. All the ingredients are shaken with ice till chilled and poured into a martini glass garnished with a slice of lemon.
- Adams Apple – This is a fruit juice based martini that consists of Apple Vodka, Midori, Apple Schnapps and apple juice. All these ingredients are poured into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and slightly shaken in a circular motion. Then after a rigorous shake, the contents are strained into a martini glass and served with a garnish of apple slice.
Other popular versions of the fruit flavor based martinis are the ones that include strawberry, pineapple, and other than that some people even enjoy a chocolate martini.
Along with such variations, the martini recipehas even changed in terms of the individual ingredient proportions, which changes the strength and taste of the drink. Certain popular ways of making this cocktail is -
- Dry Martini – This version of the cocktail uses only half the amount of dry vermouth compared to the original version.
- Extra Dry Martini – As the name indicates, this version uses even less vermouth, which is added just to flavor the drink.
- Bone Dry Martini - This version of the drink has no vermouth at all and that is why it is also known as ‘Desert Martini’.
- Dirty Martini - This variation of the drink includes adding a little olive brine, which adds to the flavor.
- Gibson – This drink is prepared like the classic version, however, the cocktail is garnished with cocktail onion instead of olives or lemon slice.
Maritini was called “the elixir of quietude” by E.B. White, the American writer who contributed immensely to the New Yorker Times.
This cocktail is considered by many as a style and status statement. In fact, a Connoisseur of Martini is considered an aristocrat.
Martini is the name that refers not only to the cocktail, but also to a brand of Vermouth and to the Italian brand called Martini & Rossi.