History of the Martini 101

on 22/02/12 at 2:23 pm

Spirits

The most famous of all cocktails, the martini is the drink Americans love most.

The martini is the most famous cocktail of all. It is made with either gin or vodka with vermouth. American food writer M.K.K. Fisher said, “The martini to America is what vodka is to Russia.”

Its name originates, not from the vermouth of that name, but from the name of the bartender who first mixed the drink at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City in 1912. He supposedly made the drink for John D. Rockefeller. Others say it originates from the name of a Californian town called Martinez near San Francisco or from a cocktail served at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco in the 1860s. So there is no lack of legend surrounding this particular drink.

The martini became the prominent cocktail in the US during the Prohibition period.

In those days, gin was the spirit of choice, and the vermouth used was probably sweet. It went out of fashion as barmen became more adventurous with other cocktails. Recently, with the return of the cocktail and a burst of nostalgia, the martini has returned.

This is a cocktail important enough to have its own glass. The martini glass is a V shape, with a thin stem. It may be used for a variety of cocktails but is primarily associated with the martini. The glass should be chilled, by placing it in the freezer hours before use. Alternatively, it can be submerged in ice-filled water, being sure to shake the glass dry afterwards.

The traditional ingredient of a martini is gin, which originated in Holland and came to be more associated with England. The basic makeup of gin is a neutral spirit flavored with juniper berries and other botanicals.

This became established during Prohibition in the US because gin was easier to produce illicitly and was more readily available than whiskey.

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