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Cocktail
Nov 20, 2023

The Martini: Your Guide To The Ultimate Classic Cocktail

From the classic mixture of gin and vermouth to endless innovations, the Martini is a favourite with everyone from mixology degree students to casual drinkers.
Written by THE ART OF SHAKING

Last update: Dec 01, 2023 -

2 min read

Index

When asked to name a cocktail, many people are likely to mention the Martini. It’s a cocktail that has stood the test of time and carries an effortless glamour and sophistication. From the classic mixture of gin and vermouth to endless innovations and variations, it’s a favourite with everyone from mixology degree students to occasional drinkers. 

Here’s a look at the history of the Martini, and some of the creative twists that bartenders have added over the years. Whether you are looking for inspiration to craft your own cocktails or just want to broaden your knowledge, it’s a fascinating journey.

 

The origin story

As with so many cocktails, the exact origins of the Martini are somewhat clouded by the mists of time. It is thought to have evolved from the Martinez, a popular late nineteenth century drink that was made from gin, vermouth, orange curaçao and orange bitters. The modern Martini emerged as a drier alternative to this sweet drink.

Another theory is that the name Martini is simply derived from Marguerite, which was the brand of vermouth originally used to make it. 

 

The tipple of Hollywood

By the mid-twentieth century, the classic dry Martini was the go-to drink for the Hollywood set, thanks to its popularity with male screen stars such as Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart. The standard ingredients were London dry gin with a small quantity of vermouth to balance out the flavour.

The elegant funnel shaped Martini glass and the addition of a lemon twist or an olive garnish gave the drink ‘screen appeal’, making it a visual shorthand for glamour and sophistication in the movies and in real life.

 

Shaken, not stirred: the legacy of James Bond

The hugely successful and popular James Bond movies that began in the 1960s consolidated the image of the Martini as an aspirational drink. Bond famously preferred his Martinis to be shaken, not stirred. There are various theories as to why this is. One theory is that it is simply a misquote from the Ian Flemming novels on which the films are based.

Another theory is that Bond deliberately requested that the Martini was shaken to provide extra dilution, thus allowing him to stay more sober to outwit his drinking companion. Traditionally, the drink is stirred to avoid over dilution and to maintain the chilled temperature and unclouded appearance.

 

Endless variety

There are now hundreds of variations on the classic Martini, including the Espresso Martini, the Elderflower Martini, or even swapping out the gin or vermouth for a different spirit such as vodka. There is some debate as to whether all of these variations still deserve to carry the name of Martini at all because they have deviated so far from the original formula.

 

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