The name martini was first mentioned in Harry Johnson’s New and Improved Bartender’s Manual published in 1888 and comes from his grandmother, The Martinez, created in Martinez, California. The Martinez was a stirred drink containing Old Tom Gin and vermouth with a ratio of 1:2, one dash of Boker’s Bitters and two dashes of maraschino. The recipe for the martini also recommended stirring and called for equal parts of Old Tom Gin and vermouth, one dash of Curaçao, two-three dashes of Boker’s Bitters and two-three dashes of gum syrup.
The vermouth used in those days was sweet Italian vermouth as the French variety was not yet available. The Old Tom Gin was a sweetened spirit and, like most classic recipes, a sweet drink.
It was in the early 1900s that we begin to see the martini evolving closer to what it is today, because of the creation and exportation of quality London Dry style Gin and dry French vermouth. This evolved to what we know today as the Dry Martini using London Dry, French vermouth, orange bitters and an olive or lemon zest. The ratios of gin to vermouth altered dramatically through the years changing from 2:1 up to even 9:1; the less vermouth you use the “drier” your martini becomes.
There are bartenders who don’t even touch the bitters and use vodka instead of gin, this is then called a Vodka Martini. Now the question is; what will you prepare when a guest comes to your bar and asks for a Martini?
The first question to ask your guest is if they like vodka or gin and which brand they would prefer. Secondly, inquire about the choice of either French vermouth or Italian and how dry they want their Martini. Would the guest like his Martini shaken or stirred and does he prefer an olive or a twist as a garnish. You can play around with your ingredients and techniques to make different Martinis accessible for all your guests.
There are lots of Martinis available today like the Appletini, the Chocolatini, the Espresso Martini, the French Martini or Pornstar Martini. These drinks are totally unrelated to the classic Martini recipe or ingredients. The names simply derive from the fact that they are all served in a Martini glass.