The history of Martinis


There are many alcoholic drinks out that people seem to enjoy but one of the most varied drinks that are available in almost any bar in many different varieties is the martini. But what is a martini? For me, the first time I had heard about a martini was with its presence as a personal favourite drink, ‘Shaken not stirred, and when I first saw it, I wasn’t sure what was so cool or sauve about such a drink, and still, I don’t understand what is so cool about it. So what is it in this drink?

So what is actually in an original martini? Well, a martini is just a drink made from just two ingredients, gin and vermouth, garnished with either olives or a lemon. But this is only how to make a classic martini. There are many variations on this fairly simple drink. These variations use different types of alcohol and even sometimes with different ingredients, such as added olive juice or even an espresso shot. But if the fundamental elements of the martini are actually pretty much replaceable, then what is it that actually makes the martini what it is? Most variations on this seemingly iconic drink have two ingredients in common, these being the vermouth present in the drink and the other isn’t even a part of the drink itself. Part of the reason that a drink can be labelled a martini is actually because of the glass that the drink is actually displayed in. The wide-mouthed short cone-like shape of the glass is almost more of a feature of a martini than any of the ingredients. 

So where did the martini find its origins then? There are actually multiple theories as to the origins of even the humble martini with its only three ingredients and special glass. One theory says that the drink may originate from Martinez in California, where the towns inhabitants and the historians press that the drink originated in the 1800s in the gold rush. After a gold miner had struck rich one day, he went to his local establishment and asked for a bottle of champagne, which the bartender did not have available. Instead, the bartender insisted that he make the man a drink with the ingredients that he had available behind his bar. These ingredients included gin, vermouth, bitters, maraschino liqueur and lemon. The man was so enamoured by the drink that he tried to order the same in San Fransisco, where he had to give the bartender instructions on how to make such a drink. The earliest known recipe for ‘The Martinez Special’ can be found in Jerry Thomas’ 1877 edition of Bartender’s guide, how to mix all kinds of plain and fancy drinks. 

Even the most varied and differing things can share the same humble beginnings. The same could even be said for the people that walk the Earth. Perhaps we should rather focus on the similarities, such as the glass, rather that our many differences. 


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