Martini Cocktail

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The Martini is a classic cocktail consisting of varying degrees of gin and dry vermouth, and sometimes bitters. Standard garnishes are a pitted green olive (or three!) or a twist of fresh lemon peel.

The Martini, despite (or perhaps owing to) its simplicity, has a lore and a mystique about it. Everyone has their own, often opinionated, view on how a proper Martini is to be made.

"There is no sugar in a martini; no egg whites, no black and white rums, no shaved almonds, no fruit juice, no chocolate, and no spices.... It is a clear, clean, cold, pure, honest drink ..." - Donald G. Smith, Wall Street Journal


Common Recipes

According to David Herpin

There are many theories as to where this drink originates. Many believe it was named after a man named martinez on his way to california during the gold rush. Others claim similar stories but all involve someone or something named martinez. Infact, many attribute the "Martinez" cocktail as the proprietor of this drink. This drink has nothing to do with anything named martinez.

This drink was coined by the vermouth company martini, sola, & co themselves. Here is an early printing of the turin based company:

Annuaire general du commerce, de l'industrie, de la magistrature ...: Volume 10 in 1845

"Martini, Sola, & Co."

This brand of vermouth was introduced internationally by 1865 and this is also when this drink was likely coined. Here is an early printing of the introduction:

Official Catalogue illustrated with Engravings published by Order ... - Page 25 in 1865

"Martini, Sola and Co., manufacturers, Chieri (Turin); Office, 31, via Carlo Alberto, Turin. Turin vermouth."

The Technologist. Ed. by P.L. Simmonds - Page 38 by Peter Lund Simmonds in 1866

"Turin vermouth or bitters, furnishes a large trade. One house, that of Martini, Sola, and Co., carries on a considerable business in it both for Italy and abroad. In 1864, they exported 20000 cases to South"

By 1880 this vermouth had taken on it's now present name as seen in this publication:

The official catalogue of the exhibits - Page 163 in 1880

"Baresi wines. 574 Martini & Rossi, Turin.— Vermouth wine."

Many accredit Harry Johnson for the first printing of this drink, others claim it was first in o.h. Byron's bartender's guide, both are incorrect. This drink appears as early as: Library journal: Volume 82 by Library Association in 1857.

This drink has taken many changes over the century, but it is clear what it originally composed of. It is likely Martini and Rossi tried to coin a "Sweet Martini" in the 1850's but failed due to the popularity of Knickerbocker, Income Tax, and Bronx which all had already been in place.

It seems they did the next best thing, which was to market a dry vermouth along with their turin based sweet vermouth and make a "Dry Martini", which at the time consisted of dry vermouth, gin, lemon peel, and bitters.

This drink dates between 1853 - 1855 and contained at least as of then:

Stir these ingredients:


Dry Vermouth (Martini, Sola, & Co. or Martini and Rossi)

Lemon Peel

Orange Bitters

Strain into a chilled martini glass.

Recipe 1:

  • Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain
  • 1 3/4 oz gin (5 cl, 7/16 gills)
  • 3/4 oz dry vermouth (2 cl, 3/16 gills)
  • Add olive (or lemon twist)
  • Serve in a cocktail glass

Recipe 2: Dale DeGroff (aka King Cocktail)

Stir or shake as your heart or James tells you and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a small pitted Spanish cocktail olive, no matter what they tell you in Texas.

Recipe 3: Gary Regan

Pour the gin or vodka and the vermouth into an ice-filled mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Stir well for 20 to 30 seconds, or shake well for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain into a well-chilled, large martini glass, and add the garnish.

Earliest References

The Modern Bartender's Guide by O.H. Byron features a recipe for a drink called a "Martinez," described as a Manhattan made with gin instead of whiskey.

30 June 1887, BROOKLYN DAILY EAGLE, pg. 2: "aye, even sample the bewildering depths of the 'Martini cocktail,'"

Harry Johnson (1882) - Martini Cocktail.

Historical Recipes

"Wehmann's Bartenders Guide" by Henry J.Wehmann (1891)

Martini Cocktail

  • (Use large bar glass)
  • Fill the glass with ice
  • 2 or 3 dashes Gum Syrup
  • 2 or 3 dashes Bitters
  • 1 dash of Curacoa
  • 1/2 wine glassful of old Tom Gin
  • 1/2 wine glassful of vermouth

Stir well with a spoon, strain into cocktail glass, squeeze a piece of lemon peel on top, and serve

Gary Regan Says...

"The story of the creation of the Dry Gin Martini must always follow the tale of the Manhattan since, as far as I'm concerned, the Martini started out as a variation on the Manhattan. It goes like this: Grimes states--and I never argue with Grimes--that a drink called The Martinez is detailed in an 1884 cocktail book by someone named O.H. Byron, "who described the drink as a Manhattan in which gin is substituted for whiskey." So now we have a drink named the Martinez that's made with gin, sweet vermouth, and orange bitters."

"In the early 1900s the Dry Martinez, calling for dry vermouth instead of sweet, starts appearing in various cocktail books, and in 1906 the drink mysteriously changes its name to the Dry Martini in a book by Louis Muckensturm titled "Louis' Mixed Drinks with Hints for the Care and Service of Wines." Why did the name change? Hold on to your hat, this might be hard to take."

"I think it was probably a result of marketing dollars spent by Martini & Rossi, the company that was importing more vermouth into this country than anyone else at the time. The company apparently placed newspaper advertisements detailing the Dry Martini Cocktail in the early years of the twentieth century. I believe, therefore, that the Manhattan begat the Martinez, the Martinez begat the Dry Martinez, and the Dry Martinez eventually came to be known as the Dry Martini. There's no way to prove this, but it seems fairly logical to me. Orange bitters, by the way, remained a standard ingredient in Dry Gin Martinis right through the 1930s."

A Word about "Millennium Martinis"

The term "Millennium Martini" was coined by Cheryl Charming to describe the so-called "Martini" craze that began in the 1990s and progressed well into the 2000s. The craze has little to do with the classic Martini Cocktail. What happened was that bars and restaurants began serving various cocktails straight up in conical Martini glasses, and giving them names with the word "Martini" or the suffix "-tini". Examples include the Chocolate Martini.

The trend is believed to have begun with the invention of the Apple Martini, and was later given a boost by the show Sex and the City, in which Cosmopolitans were shown being served straight up in Martini glasses.

Purists look upon this trend with disdain.

Variations on the Martini

See also

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