The History of the Gin Martini

The History of the Gin Martini

By Kaitlyn Agnew

The History of the Gin Martini

The gin martini is one of the most famous gin cocktails in history. But where did its success come from?


The Start

The exact origins of the martini have been the subject of much debate. Some people think that the name 'Martini' simply originates from the vermouth brand. Others speculate that the name and recipe came from a drink called the 'Martinez' popularly served in the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco before traveling to Martinez, California. However, residents of Martinez claim the drink was concocted by a local bartender. Despite the mystery surrounding its origins, the martini has been a prevalent drink throughout history and fiction.


The Recipe

The modern recipe is quite 

simple, but potent! Add dry gin and dry vermouth to a mixing glass with ice - shaken or stirred, depending on individual tastes. Then pour into a cold martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist or olive. However, before the olives, some bartenders added syrup or cherries, making the cocktail much sweeter than we know it today.


The History

In the United States, the Prohibition in the early 1900s came to a head with an easing around the distilling of illegal gin. it was deemed the easiest spirit to distill following the new 18th Amendment. Come the Roaring 20's gin was a popular spirit, and the martini was one of the most famous cocktails. 

The martini lost its popularity somewhere in the 1970s-80s. It was seen as being outdated, and more intricate cocktails were favoured above such a bare-bones cocktail. However, in the middle of the '90s, popularity was resurgent for the martini along with a plethora of variations upon it.


The Fiction

The most famous reference to the gin martini is, of course, the iconic James Bond. With the famous 'shaken, not stirred" line, this is one of the most famous instances of the gin martini in fiction. On the popular American TV show "I Dream of Jeannie" the main character, Jeannie, refers to it as her 'favourite potion'.


The Olives

There are many superstitions and historical facts surrounding olives in a martini. An advantage of olives in your martini is that with them being so aromatic and savory, olives help to balance the bitter taste of vermouth. This is highlighted by the 'Dirty Martini' which has olive brine added to it. On top of this, it has also been deemed bad luck to have a martini with an even amount of olives. The reason behind such superstition is unknown, but people speculate it may be because of an Italian belief that anything served in even numbers is said to represent bad hospitality and be unlucky.