Do You Know Your Martini From Your Martinez?

Today is “National Dry Martini Day” (who comes up with this stuff?)…another excuse to drink, but also an excuse to learn a little about the history of the classic American cocktail.

The Martini is the quintessential drink; full of history, legend, and most importantly liquor! There are almost as many versions of the origin of the Martini as there are ways to make it. Some say the drink was invented in San Francisco during the late 19th century. Others, say it was invented by a bartender in New York City in the early 1900’s. There is also documentation that the modern day Martini evolved from a classic cocktail called the Martinez (named after Martinez, California where it originated). Perhaps this is the original East Coast-West Coast rivalry?

The Martini, already popular, really took the drinking world by storm during Prohibition. Gin was easy to get and so the Martini was easy to drink. During the 1960’s, James Bond helped revive the drink by ordering a Vodka Martini (shaken, not stirred). This version of the Martini quickly outpaced the original Gin recipe. During the 1980’s, the Martini had another boom in popularity, but this gave way to the 90’s when people were ordering all sorts of jacked up versions of drinks that were called Martini’s simply because they were served in a Martini glass! (Chocolate or Apple-tini anyone?). Thankfully, the original Gin Martini is back in the good graces of drinkers/bartenders (due in part to the current cocktail renaissance and the rediscovery of some original cocktail ingredients that weren’t available until recently).

Aside from this long and undulating history, the proper preparation of the Martini  is also something worth noting. An original Martini is made with Gin and Vermouth. Period. If you order a Martini with vodka, that is considered a Vodka Martini and a completely different drink in my opinion-sorry Mr.Bond!

Historically, you ordered a Martini with sweet vermouth aka Martini Rosso, (made popular by the Martini & Rossi brand in 1863, the preferred brand of vermouth hence people asking for their Gin to be mixed with “Martini Vermouth” leading to the shortened name “Martini”). Those who wanted a dry Martini would request white vermouth, or Vermouth Bianco. The basic version of the drink called for 1 part vermouth to 3 parts gin. Today, the amount of vermouth denotes the dryness of the drink, rather than the type of vermouth used. The ratio has gotten so out of control some Martini recipes only call for a rinse of vermouth. You can also serve your Martini dirty, by adding olive juice. I prefer the dry to dirty, using a good quality Rosso/Rouge, a dash of bitters, and a garnish of lemon or orange.

Such feverous debate over the origin of a cocktail almost seems silly; the bottom line is the Martini a good, strong drink that gets the job done.

As Dorothy Parker says: I like to drink martinis. Two at the most. Three I’m under the table, four I’m under the host.

So, to celebrate National Dry Martini Day, here are the recipes for the Classic Martini, Dry Martini and my version of a Modern Martini.

Drinking is all about preference…drink what you like! I recommend trying all three and decide how wet or dry you like your Martini; but remember A Martini should never, ever, ever be shaken. Always stirred.



Original Martini

2 ½ oz Gin (Try Old Tom’s– it has a nice floral, slighter sweeter flavor which complements the dry vermouth)

1 oz Dry Vermouth

Lemon or Olive

Pour Gin and Vermouth into a glass filled with ice. STIR. Strain into a chilled cocktail/Martini glass. Garnish with olive or lemon.


Dry Martini

2 ½ oz Gin

2-4 dashes Vermouth

Lemon or Olive

Pour Gin and Vermouth into a glass filled with ice. STIR. Strain into a chilled cocktail/Martini glass. Garnish with olive or lemon.


Nina’s Martini

Equal Parts Gin and Sweet/Rouge/Rosso Vermouth (I like 2:2)

2 dashes Orange/Angostura Bitters

Orange rind for Garnish

Pour Gin and Vermouth into a glass filled with ice. STIR. Strain into a chilled cocktail/Martini glass. Add bitters and garnish with Orange.


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