Martini (cocktail)

The martini is a cocktail made with gin and vermouth, and garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. Over the years, the martini has become one of the best-known mixed alcoholic beverages.

Dry Martini
IBA official cocktail
The martini is one of the most widely known cocktails
Primary alcohol by volume
ServedUp (or on the rocks)
Standard garnishOlive or lemon twist
Standard drinkware Cocktail glass
IBA specified
PreparationStraight: Pour all ingredients into mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well. Strain into chilled martini cocktail glass. Squeeze oil from lemon peel onto the drink, or garnish with olive.
TimingBefore dinner
Dry Martini recipe at International Bartenders Association

H. L. Mencken called the martini "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet",[1] and E. B. White called it "the elixir of quietude".[2]


By 1922 the martini reached its most recognizable form in which London dry gin and dry vermouth are combined at a ratio of 2:1, stirred in a mixing glass with ice cubes, with the optional addition of orange or aromatic bitters, then strained into a chilled cocktail glass.[3] Over time the generally expected garnish became the drinker's choice of a green olive or a twist of lemon peel.

A dry martini is made with dry, white vermouth. By the Roaring Twenties, it became a common drink order. Over the course of the 20th century, the amount of vermouth steadily dropped. During the 1930s the ratio was 3:1 (gin to vermouth), and during the 1940s the ratio was 4:1. During the latter part of the 20th century, 6:1, 8:1, 12:1, 15:1 (the "Montgomery", after British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's supposed penchant for attacking only when in possession of great numerical superiority),[4] or even 50:1 or 100:1 Martinis became considered the norm.[5]

A dirty martini contains a splash of olive brine or olive juice and is typically garnished with an olive.[6]

A perfect martini uses equal amounts of sweet and dry vermouth.[7]

Some martinis were prepared by filling a cocktail glass with gin, then rubbing a finger of vermouth along the rim. There are those who advocated the elimination of vermouth altogether. According to Noël Coward, "A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin, then waving it in the general direction of Italy", Italy being a major producer of vermouth.[8] Luis Buñuel used the dry martini as part of his creative process, regularly using it to sustain "a reverie in a bar". He offers his own recipe, involving Angostura bitters, in his memoir.[9]

In 1966, the American Standards Association (ASA) released K100.1-1966, "Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis", a tongue-in-cheek account of how to make a "standard" dry martini.[10] The latest revision of this document, K100.1-1974, was published by American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the successor to ASA, though it is no longer an active standard.[11]

The traditional martini comes in a number of variations. The fictional spy James Bond sometimes asked for his vodka martinis to be "shaken, not stirred", following Harry Craddock's The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), which prescribes shaking for all its martini recipes.[12] The proper name for a shaken martini is a Bradford;[13] however, Somerset Maugham is often quoted as saying that "a martini should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously on top of one another."[14] A martini may also be served on the rocks; that is, with the ingredients poured over ice cubes and served in an Old-Fashioned glass.[15]

Origins and mixology

The exact origin of the martini is unclear. In 1863, an Italian vermouth maker started marketing their product under the brand name of Martini, after its director Alessandro Martini, and the brand name may be the source of the cocktail's name.[16]

Another popular theory suggests it evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez served sometime in the early 1860s at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, which people frequented before taking an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez, California. Alternatively, the people of Martinez say a bartender in their town created the drink,[17] or maybe the drink was named after the town. Indeed, a "Martinez Cocktail" was first described in Jerry Thomas' 1887 edition of his Bartender's Guide, How to Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks:[18]

  • Take 1 dash of Boker's bitters
  • 2 dashes of Maraschino
  • 1 pony [1 fl oz] of Old Tom gin
  • 1 wine-glass [2 fl oz] of [sweet/Italian] vermouth
  • 2 small lumps of ice
  • Shake up thoroughly, and strain into a large cocktail glass. Put a quarter of a slice of lemon in the glass, and serve. If the guest prefers it very sweet, add two dashes of gum syrup.

Other bartending guides of the late 19th century contained recipes for numerous cocktails similar to the modern-day martini.[19] For example, Harry Johnson's Bartenders' Manual (1888) listed a recipe for a drink that consisted in part of half a wine glass of Old Tom gin and a half a wine glass of vermouth.[20]

  • Fill the glass up with ice
  • 2 or 3 dashes of gum syrup
  • 2 or 3 dashes of bitters; (Boker's genuine only)
  • 1 dash of Curaçao
  • 12 wine glassful [1 fl oz] of Old Tom gin
  • 12 wine glassful [1 fl oz] of [sweet/Italian] vermouth
  • Stir up well with a spoon, strain it into a fancy cocktail glass, squeeze a piece of lemon peel on top, and serve.

The first dry martini is sometimes linked to the name of a bartender who concocted the drink at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City in 1911 or 1912.[21] The "Marguerite Cocktail", first described in 1904, could be considered an early form of the dry martini, because it was a 2:1 mix of Plymouth dry gin and dry vermouth, with a dash of orange bitters.[22]

During Prohibition in the United States, during the mid-20th century, the relative ease of illegal gin manufacture led to the martini's rise as the locally predominant cocktail. With the repeal of Prohibition, and the ready availability of quality gin, the drink became progressively drier. In the 1970s and '80s, the martini came to be seen as old-fashioned and was replaced by more intricate cocktails and wine spritzers, but the mid-1990s saw a resurgence in the drink and numerous new versions.[16]

Some newer drinks include the word "martini" or the suffix "-tini" in the name (e.g., appletini, peach martini, chocolate martini, Espresso Martini). These are so named because they are served in a martini cocktail glass. Generally containing vodka, they share little in common with the martini.

See also


  1. Edmunds, Lowell (1998). Martini, Straight Up: The Classic American Cocktail (Revised ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 9780801859717. LCCN 98018257.
  2. Conrad, Barnaby, III (1995). The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic. Chronicle Books. pp. 10–11. ISBN 9780811807173. LCCN 94017325.
  3. McElhone, Harry (1922). Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails (PDF). Dean & Son. p. 67.
  4. John Taylor (19 October 1987). "The Trouble With Harry's". New York Magazine: 62. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. "Drink Recipes: How to Make a Dry Martini, Classic Cocktails". Thirsty NYC. 6 February 2014. Archived from the original on 6 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  6. Bloom, Dave. The Complete Bartender's Guide. Carlton Books. p. 95. ISBN 1-84222-736-X.
  7. "Making the Perfect Martini".
  8. Elkhershi, Erica; Bhatia, Sumant (13 September 2013). "Instant Expert: How to make a perfect Martini". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
  9. Buñuel, Luis (1982). Mon Dernier soupir [My Last Breath] (in French).
  10. K100.1-1966 Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis (PDF) (1966 ed.). American Standards Association. 31 August 1966. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  11. K100.1-1974 Safety Code and Requirements for Dry Martinis (PDF) (1974 ed.). American National Standards Institute. 30 August 1974. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 December 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2016.
  12. Craddock, Harry (2011). The Savoy Cocktail Book. Pavilion Books. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-1-86205-296-3.
  13. David A. Embury (1948). The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. New York City: Doubleday. p. 101.
  14. Schott, Ben (2003). Schott's Food & Drink Miscellany. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7475-6654-0.
  15. Irma S. Rombauer (1975). Joy of Cooking. p. 49. [The old-fashioned glass] is increasingly used these days [mid-1970s] by people who prefer their martini 'on the rocks' instead of 'up'—that is, in the rather more fussy and more precise cocktail-glass type of preparation.
  16. "Shaken or Stirred? A Short History to Celebrate National Martini Day". The Drink Nation. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  17. Taylor, David (2002). Martini. Silverback Books. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-930603-03-5.
  18. Thomas' 1887 "Martinez Cocktail" recipe.
  19. Edmunds, Lowell (1998). Martini, Straight Up: The Classic American Cocktail. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 81. ISBN 978-0-8018-7311-9.
  20. Johnson, Harry (1888). The New and Improved Illustrated Bartenders' Manual; Or: How to Mix Drinks of the Present Style. H. Johnson. p. 38.
  21. Gasnier, Vincent (2007). Drinks. DK Adult. p. 376.
  22. Thomas, Stuart (1904). Stuart's Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them. Excelsior Publishing House. p. 132.
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