Who invented the Martini? Does anyone even care? The history of the beloved icon is so messy that even the most interested cocktail historians get lost in the silly arguments and overblown claims. The truth is that most people who love the Martini are thrilled that anyone invented it, and they’re busy drinking the cocktail rather than worrying about who’s taking credit for its inception.
The fun stuff is why we drink it. The partnership of the Martini and living the good life is so ingrained in American culture that just holding one will make you feel classier, wealthier, and maybe even better looking. Its ties to prohibition, speakeasies, and the idolization of flappers and gangsters also gives it an edginess, a throwback to a good time decade where shirking the law was an everyday thing. Admirable people drank it with gusto – and we all know just how they took it, whether that be shaken, not stirred, with a bow to France, or just glancing at the vermouth from across the room – the Martini was everybody’s drink. As H.L. Mencken once said, the Martini is “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.”
In subsequent years, the Martini has come to represent anything served in a martini glass, but in its truest form, the drink is simply gin and vermouth, garnished with an olive or lemon twist. Variations include substituting vodka for gin, varying the dryness by adding more or less vermouth, adding bitters, taking the vermouth out entirely, or dirtying it up with olive juice.
2 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
olives or lemon twist for garnish
Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice cubes. Stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the olive or lemon twist.
The Winston Churchill
As today is Winston Churchill Day, I’ll give you his recipe as well. Hats off, Prime Minister.
Stir gin with ice until ice cold. Bow in the direction of France.*