Classic Martini Recipe & History
"A classic Martini is the best way to enjoy such a full bodied and juniper forward gin. It's at its best when it's served straight up and as cold as you can get it. Store the gin bottle in the freezer and put your vermouth, glass and mixing glass or cocktail shaker in the fridge one hour in advance of creating this cocktail."
- Eleonora Biason, Drinks Distilled Spirits Guide
Image by Quentin Fichot
What you need
- Never Never Southern Strength Gin
- Dry vermouth
- Orange bitters
- Jigger and bar spoon
- Cocktail glass or cocktail shaker
- Martini glass or Coupe glass
- Garnish: lemon peel, olive or pickled onion; whichever you prefer!
- Ice cubes
- Fill a cocktail shaker tin or mixing glass with ice.
- Add 60ml gin and 20ml dry vermouth (or adjust according to your taste, the more gin you add, the drier and stronger it will be) and a dash of orange bitters.
- Stir vigorously for 30 seconds until the tin or glass has misted and then strain into a chilled Martini or Coupe glass.
- Top with your garnish of choice, lemon peel, olive or pickled onion.
There are several conflicting stories over how one of America's most iconic cocktails came to be.
The most popular theory is that Jerry Thomas, an influential 19th century bartender, invented the drink at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, in the 1850s.
A miner who was setting out on a journey to Martinez, California and had recently struck lucky, asked Jerry to create something special to celebrate. This led to the creation of the Martinez cocktail, which later evolved into the Martini.
However, the first documentation of a cocktail combining gin and vermouth appeared in newspaper articles in 1883, where it was identified as a Manhattan. It then went on to appear in various bartender guides and articles under a whole host of names as it continued to evolve, such as the Martena and Martine.
By the 1890s the bartending community settled on the Martini, with some believing that this was likely helped by the popularity of Martini & Sola's vermouth at the time.
The drink’s original recipe was sweet, thanks to a combination of sweet vermouth and Maraschino liqueur. However, bartenders around the world soon started playing with ingredients and the balance of gin versus vermouth. At the turn of the century a trend for drier cocktails led to the popularity of the 'Dry Martini' that we know today, using London dry gin and dry vermouth.
Skipping forward - the vodka martini first made an appearance in the 1930s, but truly took off in the 50s and then became popular again during the cocktail renaissance in the 90s. This era saw the proliferation of 'neo-martini' recipes, which use the iconic martini glass to justify using martini or 'tini' in their name (think Pornstar Martini, Espresso Martini and French Martini) – despite them bearing little or no resemblance to the original cocktail.
Whilst some of these recipes continue to be extremely popular, it's the original recipe that continues to be the truest test of skill for every bartender today.
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