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Shaken Not Stirred - The History Of The Martini Shaker

May 24, 2008
The martini shaker can be traced back to several thousand years BC in South America. Relics from about 7000BC include a jar gourd that was valued for its use as a closed container. Ancient Egyptians in 3500 BC added spices to their grain fermentations before serving made them because it made them more palatable.

Archaeologists have yet to find a hieroglyphic list of cocktail recipes, however, we do know in 1520 Cortez wrote to King Charles V of Spain about a certain drink from the New Worlds made from cacao, served to Montezuma that had a frothy and foaming appearance and was served from a golden cylinder.

In the late 1800s, the shaker as we know it today had become a standard tool of the trade. It was invented by an innkeeper after pouring a drink back and forth to mix it. He found that the smaller mouth of one container fit into another, and shook it for presentation.

In the late 1890s, when New York City hotels were serving the English custom of 5 oclock tea, the 5 oclock cocktail hour was not a stretch of the imagination. They began doing so with shakers designed for home use. They were crude looking a lot like teapots.

Martinis were served from sterling silver shakers in the 1920s by high society while the less wealthy used a device made do with glass or nickel plated. After World War I, rationing and hard sacrifices were replaced by party going and a frenzied quest for pleasure.

The mixed drink and cocktail shaker was even more fueled by the Prohibition movement. People who had never tasted a cocktail before were knocking on speakeasy doors. The outlaw culture had a powerful pull. Flappers with one foot on the brass rail ordered their choice of drinks with names like Between the Sheets, Fox Trot, and Zanzibar Women, liberated more by prohibited drinking smoking in public than by their new voting rights, flocked to speakeasy establishments.

But the real popularity explosion occurred after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Now that alcohol was again legal again, they were featured frequently on the silver screen as part of every movie set. Stars were constantly sipping cocktails when they werent lighting each others cigarettes symbols of sophistication. Movie fans watched Fred and Ginger dance across the screen, cocktail glass in hand, and wanted their way to shake themselves out of the Depression that gripped the country.
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