There are a few theories about how the gin and vermouth cocktail, usually garnished with a twist of lemon peel or a green olive on a toothpick, came into being.
Late Ian Fleming popularised the phrase “shaken; not stirred” when he referred to his character James Bond’s preference for a martini. The catchphrase became a way for those ordering cocktails to feel cool and momentarily step into the role of 007.
There are a few theories about how the gin and vermouth cocktail, usually garnished with a twist of lemon peel or a green olive on a toothpick, came into being. One theory says that the martini evolved from a cocktail called “the martinez”. Historians and inhabitants of the town of Martinez in California claim that the martini was invented during the Gold Rush (when people from across the US and the world went to California as they received the news of gold being discovered there) in the 1800s. The story goes that a gold miner ended up at a local bar to celebrate his newfound fortune, and asked for a glass of champagne, which wasn’t available. Instead, the bartender made a concoction with what he had on hand: gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur, bitters and a slice of lemon. And so, the martinez was born. The drink was even mentioned in the ‘Bartender’s Manual’, a book of cocktail recipes from the 1880s.
The other story about the history of the martini says that author Barnaby Conrad III, who wrote a book about the creation of the martini called ‘The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic,’ claimed the cocktail was invented in San Francisco. Conrad III believed that a gold miner ordered a refreshing drink on his way to the town of Martinez, which came to be known as the martini. In his book, he says that the drink was mixed in the 19th century.
Since then, the martini’s popularity has only soared and it even became a favourite with Ernest Hemingway, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. Traditionally, a martini is made with gin and vermouth shaken or stirred with ice (ingredients like maraschino liqueur and bitters were later dropped). Early martinis used gin and vermouth in the ratio 1:1, but the amount of gin has gone up over the years. Now, the constitution of the martini varies with personal taste. Made with basic ingredients found at most bars and known for being elegant, the drink has become a classic likely to not go out of style easily.