The Beginnings of the Martini


The first Martini is held a mystery in historical lore. Many a story has been told as to the origins, but much has been lost due to time and old arguments. What actually resulted is a combination of different recipes and culmination of time to create what became the Martini as gin and vermouth. 

The beginnings might be traced to the the 18th century to a German opera composer, J.P. Schwartzendorf, nicknamed "Martini". He mixed up libations for his friends that were supposedly called for by his nickname. His recipe calls for;

  • 2 ounces Genievre (the original gin invented in Belgium)
  • 1 ounce Chablis or Rhine wine
  • 1/16 level tsp. cinnamon

    Bartender Julio Richelieu in the town of Martinez, California in 1870 mixed up a cocktail supposedly with an olive in it. This was served to a miner complaining about the whiskey he traded his pouch of gold for. The town still claims it is the birthplace of the Martini. A traveler on the way to this same town stopped in "Professor" Jerry Thomas' bar in San Francisco. Thomas served him a Martinez. Thomas is credited for the first guide to bartending. The recipe for the Martinez appeared in a reprint of one of his books in 1887. He was in contention with Harry Johnson's Bartender's Manualwhich may or may not have been in actual publication before Thomas' book. 

    The Martinez
  • 2 oz. sweet red vermouth
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 2 dashes maraschino
  • 1 dash of bitters
    Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice, stir for half a minute and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

    Of course, the famous vermouth producers Martini & Rossi also claim the origin. 

    The Original American Martini Recipe
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • Dash of orange bitters
    Stir with cubed ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. 

    The Classic Martini
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin
  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
    Stir with cubed ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. 

    The Modern Martini
  • 1 1/2 oz. gin or vodka
  • 1/4 oz. or no vermouth
    Stir with cubed ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. 

  • Dry = No vermouth, serve with a twist
  • Gibson = Serve with cocktail onions
  • Dirty = Made with olive juice

    Shaken Not Stirred?
    A shaken supposedly "bruises" the gin and some people claim they can actually taste it! 007's Martini was actually a Vesper. 

    To what modern consumers consider a Martini is not what the old time Martini drinkers of today consider a Martini. To them "dry" means a tad of vermouth. Dry now days often means just a "glance" at the bottle of vermouth. So popular vodka has become, bartenders complain that they have to ask if the consumer wants their Martini made with gin or vodka. 

    The evolvement continues and I can hear some old time bartenders rolling over in their graves over what is now considered a Martini. Neo-Classic Martinis are making there way into the bar scene at a surprising rate. The advent of very chilled cocktails served up in a cocktail glass (what some refer to as a Martini glass) has given rise to a trend of calling cocktails "Martinis. Here are a few examples; 
  • Chocolate Martini
  • Cosmopolitan
  • Hennessey Martini
  • More Recipes...

A Drink with Something in It

by Ogden Nash

There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant; 
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth--
I think that perhaps it's the gin. *

*Used with the permission of the Ogden Nash family.