15 May

Spiritual Guide: History of the Martini

A new guide for spiritual enlightenment by the pious team at Glengarry. Join us monthly as we explore everything spirit related. View the full issue online here.

Cocktails: History of the Martini

Following on from the last issue’s controversial history of the “Sazerac”, this time we delve into the much-debated origin of the Martini. A simple drink consisting of gin, vermouth, and a garnish. It can be shaken or stirred, but what were the elements that led to this classic’s invention?

The first tale goes like this: In the mid 1800s, in Martinez California, a gold miner wanted to celebrate his bounty by ordering a bottle of champagne in a nearby tavern. When they didn’t have any, an ingenious barman whipped up a concoction from the ingredients he had available including the MVP’s of the Martini – gin and vermouth, together with cherry liqueur, bitters and garnished with a slice of lemon. It was named “The Martinez Special.” The miner loved it and, as the story goes, wanted to order it again in a bar in San Francisco whereupon it had to be made to the miner’s instruction and thus it came the first Martini. Needless to say, the inhabitants of Martinez California are very fond of this theory.

However, a contrary theory tells that the miner was in fact on his way through San Francisco, on his way to Martinez, when he first ordered the drink. Yet another story posits that the drink’s name comes from the use of “Martini and Rossi” vermouth, a brand which has been around since the mid 1800s.

Whether this classic cocktail was named after the hometown of the panicked bartender, or an established vermouth brand, it’s clear that the Martini’s popularity has stayed strong due to its clean, sophisticated and classy style. It can be made sweet, dry, with gin or vodka, or get just about as adventurous as anything you can put the suffix “tini” after. Long live the Martinez Special.

Chesney McDonald