Martini Madness

I came home from work a little late today and decided for my extra effort I deserved a martini. As I was shaking it I thought, "I should blog about Martinis" and as these things generally go, as soon as I decide to blog about something I must do it immediately. The first thing I did was google "Martini Quotes". I thought it might give me a kicky title, but the first result was this quote from Doug Coupland (who, if you've been reading my blog, you will know I'm a bit of a fan girl for).

"Fondue sets, martini shakers and juicing machines: three things the world could live completely without." - Doug Coupland

I'll leave fondue sets for another day; suffice it to say I love those too. But Martini shakers? I am guessing from this that Mr. Coupland isn't much of a martini drinker because anyone I know who drinks martinis uses a shaker.

The argument exists that the proper way to make a martini is to stir it. Shaking it damages the molecules, though it seems shaking is is the 'healthier' way (if there is such a thing) as shaking releases more anti-oxidants. Bond's choice of the shaken martini is consistent, though his portrayal as a vodka purist isn't. He at times orders gin and at others vodka.

In the books, it is a different story altogether. In Casino Royale, (1953, Chapter 7) James Bond's drink of choice was the vesper, named for the beautiful double agent in Ian Fleming's book of the same name: 

"A dry martini," he said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."

"Oui, monsieur."

"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel.

Got it?"

Traditionally the martini is made from gin and vermouth, though I personally prefer the vodka version. (My actual order, if I was Bond, would be "I'll have a martini. Vodka, dirty, shaken, extra olives.") The popular way to make a martini is shaken, but it could be the most popular because of the Bond films. Written history shows martinis being shaken in recipes dating as far back as 1930. Made from either Gin or Vodka, Vermouth is the secondary ingredient, and the amount added determines how dry the martini is. Vermouth was traditionally made from a blend of juniper (derivative of gin), workwood flowers, orange peel, cloves, cinnamon,  nutmeg, coriander, mace, marjoram, brandy, white wine and tree bark, but these days, Vermouth is sweet wine infused with a blend of herbs and spices, sugar and caramel, fortified with alcohol.

The martini even has its own glass, but the V-shaped form with a long stem is not just for style, it is actually designed to keep any drink cool without ice. The wide mouth of the glass also helps the bouquet of the gin or vodka to be brought out. Various opinions exist on the origins of the martini recipe and name, everything from the town of Martinez, California to various professors and bartenders designing the drink. The Oxford English Dictionary credits Martini and Rossi with the martini. In 1871, the company, then named Martini e Sola, shipped 100 cases of red vermouth to New York. This version of events is unlikely however, as recorded accounts of martinis date back farther than 1871.

And here comes my blogger's opinion. I don't feel anything with 'mix' should be called a martini. I don't really have any foundation for this claim but my irritation with the use of the term to describe a cocktail began around the time that Sex and the City  was at its peak. The gals on that show ordered Cosmopolitans, which while served in a martini glass, aren't martinis at all, since they contain cranberry juice.That's fine, because as far as I can recall they referred to the Cosmo as a "cocktail" not a martini. But bars started calling anything they served in a martini glass, a "martini". Martini nights popped up, and they would charge $15 for what is basically a mixed drink. I find this to be completely unacceptable.  The chocolatini, I will give a pass to, because the ingredients of Vodka + Creme de Cacao are at least both alcohol, there is no soda, juice or other non-alcoholic item included. The apple-tini is ok too, if it is properly made. But it is horribly dissatisfying to order a 'green apple martini' in a bar only to taste it and realize that it clearly contains 7up. This is why I abandoned this sort of order many years ago and became something of a purist. Though, I suppose if I was a real purist, I'd be having a gin martini.


Read more:
History of the Martini from the Martini Muse
History of the Martini from the Cocktail Atlas
Recipes from the Martini Muse
List of Martini Recipes from The Spirit

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