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The History Of The Martini

Mar 3, 2008
The origin of the martini has been debated throughout the years, with some arguing that the martini originated around 1900 and was the offshoot of another popular drink of the era, the martinez. Others believe that the martini was named after the Martini and Rossi vermouth that in turn was named after the both the British Martini, and Henry Rifles, which were used by the British army between 1871 and 1891.

The theory that Professor Jerry Thomas invented the martinez, after a gold miner visited his San Francisco bar and asked for a unique drink. Using what arguably may have been the first martini shaker, Thomas created a drink containing one dash of Bitters, two dashes of Maraschino, one glass of Vermouth, and a few other ingredients and topped it off with a dash of lemon.

In yet another version of this origin story, the martini originated in Martinez, CA, in 1870, when a gold miner asked local bartender Julio Richelieu to make a drink for him, which Richelieu did, adding, as a garnish, a small olive. Today, the town of Martinez advertises itself as the birthplace of this famed and popular drink.

The Martini and Henry rifle theory has gained some reputability, due to the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines the word martini as originating from Martini and Rossi Vermouth, and indicates that the first usage of the word was n 1894.

Regardless of its origins, one thing that people can agree on is that the martini has been associated with both rich and famous people for years, from FDR to Frank Sinatra and James Bond. The famous line, I must get out of these wet clothes and into a dry Martini, has said to have been the invention of Peter Benchley, who was an extra on the set of the 1935 MGM film China Seas, starring Clark Gable and Jean Harlow. Alexander Woollcott, Mae West, Charles Butterworth, and Charles Brackett, have been credited with this famous line as well. W.C. Fields was said to have started the day with two Double Martinis, and reportedly carried an oversized martini shaker with him on set each day.

While there are many different types of martinis, including the Lemon Drop, the Manhattan, and the Cosmopolitan, the principle ingredient in every martini is gin, followed by Vermouth. The quality, or dryness of a particular type of Vermouth ahs led to variations within variations of the basic types of Martinis. Manhattans are typically made with Italian Vermouth, but using French Vermouth creates a Dry Manhattan, or Dry Martini, which has led to the modern day practice of some bartenders to forgo the use of Vermouth altogether in order to create a truly dry drink.
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