The martini's origins are in some doubt. By all accounts, it is said to be descended from the Martinez. An earlier and sweeter cocktail, the Martinez was a combination of sweet vermouth, gin, maraschino liqueur and bitters. Shaken with crushed ice and strained, it was garnished with a twist of lemon peel. The Martinez is said to be very similar to the Manhattan, with the whisky being replaced by the gin. The Martinez probably originated in Martinez, California. A plaque marking the birth of the Martinez can be seen at a cross roads.
There are innumerable anecdotes making the rounds about the martini. It seems Winston Churchill totally avoided the vermouth, claiming that for the perfect martini "pour a glass full of cold gin and look at a bottle of vermouth." General Patton preferred to point a bottle of gin at Italy! Alfred Hitchcock's ideal martini comprised five parts gin and "a quick glance at a bottle of vermouth."
The martini was relegated to the background during the 1970's which was more health conscious and preferred the wine and spritzer mix. It has since made a come back, with vodka becoming a more popular substitute for gin and different variations have evolved like chocolate martini and the green apple martini.
Over time, the martini has found favor with many high profile celebrities, including Winston Churchill, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cary Grant, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, among others. And of course, Sean Connery as the fictional character James Bond has made it a style statement.
The dry martini is some times referred to as a "silver bullet" because it is perceived as being "clear, potent and never misses its mark." There are those feel a "silver bullet" is gin on ice minus the vermouth.
Traditionalists insist on keeping the gin bottle, the vermouth and the mixing glass at room temperature. This is to ensure only the slightest amount of dilution after ice is stirred into the drink. This is said to release the floral bouquet of the juniper which is used to flavor the gin. When the cocktail is diluted, it also serves to enhance the flavor. However, bartenders today freeze the mixing glass. Purists are willing to accept this since dilution has already taken place in the drink mixing process.
Great care was taken to stir the cocktail "so as not to bruise the gin." W. Somerset Maugham felt that martini's should be stirred, not shaken. While James Bond insisted that martini's should be shaken, not stirred.
Vodka is becoming the new gin. This is most evident in all the new variations of the drink. And as time goes by, we even see the olive being replaced by an onion. However, the martini will always be a hot favorite in every bar from here to every where.
Read more about the Martini, Martini Equipment, Martini Ingredients, Martini Glasses or Martini Recipes
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