Have you ever wondered about where this infamous cocktail originated? Was it in Italy due to it’s Italian name? This would surely be a great trivia question at a cocktail party wouldn’t it? I did a little bit of research for all of us, because even I didn’t know and was extremely curious.
Originally made of gin (which now gives me a pounding headache), the Martini is now even more popular when mixed with a high quality vodka, which Martini purists would call a “Bradford”.
Originally mixed in 1862 in San Francisco, Calif. (that’s right, it’s not from Italy, but the vermouth is), it was mixed with much more vermouth which has been significantly reduced today: five (5) parts vodka or gin to one (1) part Italian vermouth, then shaken or stirred with ice (there’s much debate over that process too), and is always served ‘straight up’ in a beautiful Martini glass named specifically for the Martini itself!
Many debate about the amount of Italian vermouth to add to the mix: the drier the Martini, the less amount of vermouth is added. I discovered that some mixologists will add the vermouth to the ice in the shaker, shake it up a bit and then strain out the excess vermouth so that it just graces the final mixture.
For whatever reason, the Martini lost popularity in the 70’s and 80’s, but became popular again in the last two decades with the explosion of the cocktail revolution today. Along with olives, mixologists now add sun-dried tomatoes, slivers of lemons, herbs, and capers.
With the creation of numerous flavored vodkas, the versions for the famous Martini are limited only to one’s imagination!
The Bradford Martini
Makes two or three individual martinis
Lots of ice
3 shots Grey Goose vodka, or similar high-quality vodka
1/2 shot of brine (juice) from cocktail olives
1 dash Italian Martini & Rossi extra dry vermouth
3 jumbo pimento/garlic/blue cheese stuffed green olives (provide a variety for your guest)
Harry Johnson, a San Francisco bartender, published Harry Johnson’s New and Improved Bartender’s Manual in 1868. Moving to Chicago, Johnson operated “what was generally recognized to be the largest and finest establishment of the kind in this country.” (His words, obviously.)
He went on to other top-quality establishments following the 1871 Chicago Fire, regularly updating his guide along the way. His 1882 edition lists a gin cocktail, and by 1882 the same concoction with the substitution of vermouth for the absinthe was called The Martini Cocktail. We would barely recognize it today.