Discover the STORY OF THE MARTINI, A TIMELESS CLASSIC
There are a number of stories relating to the origin of the martini: the indisputable king of classic cocktails. A book could be written on its history and indeed many have. Since its original creation, the martini has evolved in numerous ways and taken influence from the ever-changing trends in cocktail culture across the world.
Origins of the Martini
The drink was originally a heady combination of gin and vermouth with the addition of a few dashes of bitters and Curaçao. It emerged roughly in the 1880’s, with the first clear reference appearing in Harry Johnson’s‘ New & Improved Bartender’s Manual’ published in 1888. Here, the drink consisted of Italian sweet vermouth and gin in equal parts. However it could contain varying quantities of each depending on one’s request. Just over a decade after its supposed creation, a ‘dry’ version appeared in print in 1903 published in a small book called ‘Fancy Drinks And How To Mix Them’. A ‘dry’ martini at this time was classified only by the use of French dry vermouth in place of the sweeter Italian vermouth.
Expansion of the Martini
The drink further established itself and by the 1920’s was enjoyed by men and women in speakeasies all over the US. Its popularity was further fuelled by the production of bathtub gin, and by 1930 the martini cocktail was the drink to be seen with.
As the popularity of the martini grew, new variations emerged using much less vermouth. The style now commonly known as the ‘dry’ martini had a ratio of five parts gin and one part vermouth and the less vermouth added, the ‘drier’ it was. In the meantime, a martini with a good dose of vermouth – two parts gin and one part vermouth – became known as a ‘wet’ martini.
By the 1950’s the ‘dry’ martini became standard and in tandem, vodka began to be introduced as a new alternative to gin as the base spirit. By the 1960’s the cult of the ‘dry’ martini was so firmly established that often vermouth was simply omitted from the drink completely.The sheer popularity of vodka in both Europe and the US drove the marginalization of the gin martini in favor of vodka.
Bartenders began to experiment more and more and drinks such as the ‘Flame of Love Martini’ (a mix of vodka, flamed orange peel and sherry in place of vermouth), began to stake its name as a must drink in social
circles in places such as Beverly Hills, California.
Stirren or Shaken?
Stirring has always been an optimal method to create the martini. By stirring the liquid around the ice, the drink is being primarily chilled and not diluted to a huge degree, which retains the character and texture of the base spirit. Albeit a quicker chilling method, shaking on the other hand leads to a more aggravated dilution due to the ice breakdown. Some purists may go as far to say that shaking is sacrilegious and ‘bruises’ the drink!
CLASSIC MARTINI GARNISHES
Although the single green pitted olive or indeed the lemon twist are the original garnishes, many others also exist: a Gibson is a standard dry martini garnished with a cocktail onion; a Roosevelt refers to a 2 olive garnish; and a Buck-eye, Black-eye or Bulls-eye uses a black olive garnish. Other variations include a Dirty Martini, with the addition of at least a teaspoon of olive brine to the drink, a Smoky Martini, with the addition of malt whisky and a Churchill, made with dry gin and an unopened bottle of vermouth simply waved about the shaker. There is no right or wrong garnish and this is one of the exciting elements when creating a martini.
From the late 80’s and early 90’s the word ‘martini’ became synonymous with ANY style of drink served in a v-shaped, stemmed glass known as a martini glass. The classic spirit/vermouth combination was soon eclipsed by cocktails shaken with fresh fruits, herbs and spices, with the versatility of vodka driving the popularity.
Absolut took a front seat in this cocktail renaissance and was the vodka of choice for bartenders across the world as a variety of newly created fresh fruit martinis cemented their place in cocktail culture.
‘Wet’ or ‘dry’, sweet vermouth or dry vermouth, olive or a twist, shaken or stirred. However you mix your martini is up to you. It is the rich texture, soft defined character and silky mouthfeel of Absolut Elyx that makes it perfect to be enjoyed in a martini style cocktail.