The Martini is a cocktail made with gin and vermouth, and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. Over the years, the Martini has become one of the best-known mixed alcoholic beverages.
The exact origin of the Martini is unclear. Numerous cocktails with names and ingredients similar to the modern-day Martini were first seen in bartending guides of the late 19th century. For example, in the 1888 Bartender’s Manual there was a recipe for a drink that consisted of half a wine glass of Old Tom Gin and a half a wine glass of vermouth. In 1863, an Italian vermouth maker started marketing their product under the brand name of Martini. This product is still available today, although it is now better known as Martini & Rossi.
Another popular theory suggests it evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez served at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco sometime in the early 1860s, which people frequented before taking an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez. Alternatively, the people of Martinez say the drink was first created by a bartender in their town, or maybe the drink was named after the town. Another theory links the first dry martini to the name of a bartender who concocted the drink at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City in 1911 or 1912.
During Prohibition the relative ease of illegal gin manufacture led to the martini’s rise as the predominant cocktail of the mid 20th century in the United States. With the repeal of Prohibition, and the ready availability of quality gin, the drink became progressively dryer. In the 1970s and 80s, the martini came to be seen as old-fashioned and was replaced by more intricate cocktails and wine spritzers, but the mid-1990s saw a resurgence in the drink and an explosion of new versions.
Some newer drinks include the word “Martini” or the suffix “-tini” in the name (e.g., appletini, peach martini, chocolate martini, espresso martini). These are named after the Martini cocktail glass they use and generally contain vodka like the kangaroo cocktail, but share little else with the drink.
Did you know that a cocktail glass is a stemmed glass which has a cone-shaped bowl which is rounded or completely flat on the bottom and placed upon a stem above a flat base. Though they are often referred to as martini glasses, they differ from martini glasses in that they have smaller, narrower bowls with rounded or flat bottoms, while martini glasses generally have larger, wider bowls which are fully conical at the bottom.