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Martiniís Cloudy History

Martiniís Cloudy History

The Oxford English Dictionary states that the word “Martini” is being used since 1894 and comes from Martini and Rossi Vermouth. However, there are many “unofficial” stories and legends about this famous and popular drink; here are some of them.

One legend states that Professor Jerry Thomas invented a drink called “Martinez”. Once a gold miner who was on his way to the town of Martinez came into Thomas’ bar in San Francisco and after a short talk asked for something special. Thomas made him a drink using one dash of Bitters, two dashes of Maraschino, one wine glass of Vermouth, two lamps of ice, one pony of Old Tom Gin and served it with quarter slice of lemon. Although this mixture may be quite unusual, maybe it was the first “Martini”? Years after this recipe appeared in a reprint of Thomas’ own Bartending Book.

Another story says that the Martini was invented in Martinez, California in 1870; the town still makes claim to be the birth place of the drink. They say that once a gold miner willing to buy some whiskey was passing through the town of Martinez and came into Julio Richelieu's saloon. He put an empty bottle and a small pouch of gold on the bar. After the bottle was filled with whiskey, the miner seemed not to be satisfied with the trade, so Richelieu made a small drink for him and put an olive in it. The drink was named after the town afterwards.

Some people think that the first martini, or “Martinez”, was composed simply of four parts Italian sweet red vermouth and one part gin. This Martini was created sometime between the years 1862 and 1876. It was made with aromatic bitters called Boker's bitters that were practically unavailable as early as the beginning of the 20th century. Old Tom Gin was used in this version since there was no such thing as London Dry then. Old Tom was very Junipery, a little golden, and rather sweet. Take some Bols Genever Gin, mix with twice the volume Tanqueray, and say, sweeten with a couple teaspoonsful of sugar, and you have a rough approximation.

Others claim that the drink has got its name from the British army's Martini and Henry rifle used in the period between 1871 and 1891, because both the rifle and the drink had a very strong kick.

In 1896 Thomas Stewart in his New York titled Stewart's Fancy Drinks and How to Mix Them gave a recipe for what he called the "Marquerite": one dash orange Bitters, 2/3 Plymouth Gin and 1/3 French Vermouth. This drink seems somewhat closer to the modern martini.

Above that, martini researcher Lowell Edmunds (author of "The Silver Bullet", 1981) wrote that O.H. Byron included a Martinez recipe in his book named The Modern Bartender's Guide (1884) three years earlier than Professor Jerry Thomas did. It is also known that the word Martini was first mentioned in the New and Improved Illustrated Bartender's Manual or How to Mix Drinks of the Present Style by Harry Johnson published in 1888.


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