#52Drinks52Weeks – Martini

Welcome to 52d2w. World Gin Day has gone by and Martini Day is next, so it’s only fair we talk about Martini…

Lore has it that during the Gold Rush in a town called Martinez in California, a gold miner who had just made his fortunes, wanted champagne. The bartender, not having any at hand, instead offered to fix him something with what he had: Gin, Vermouth, Bitters, Maraschino liqueur, and a slice of lemon. Thus, “The Martinez Special” was born. Once the miner moved to San Francisco and wanted the same drink, he had to instruct the bartender and soon enough, the recipe proliferated. But another theory states that the drink was a pick-me-up made in San Francisco upon the request of a miner on his way to Martinez, and many other travellers frequently asked for it.

So Martinez, then Mahattan, and finally Martini, that’s the path taken but in the period between 1882 and 1910, it spawned off many other versions – Marguerite, Martine, Martina…and so on.
The first mention of a Mixed Martini, Dry can be attributed to John Applegreen’s eponymous book in 1904 but but a Dry Martini was only mentioned two years later in a compendium by Louis Muckensturm, who was a Boston-based European bartender. The 20th century saw the rise of vodka and since gin is close enough (flavoured vodka for many), hence the creation of a vodka martini was inevitable. In 1905, a bartender had already whipped it up for a visiting Russian delegation at the St Charles hotel in New Orleans. And one of the most famous post-Prohibition joints of American in 1938 was the Russian Tea Room and once they launched an all vodka cocktail menu, things started to take off.It wasn’t till Bond made it a cult classic of its own, especially the way he had it – shaken, not stirred. But the drink itself existed before Ian Flemming’s protagonist ordered it, in Ted Saucier’s 1951 book, Bottoms Up!

A “dry” martini contains less vermouth, while a “dirty” one includes dashes of olive brine. When vodka replaces the gin, it’s known as a “kangaroo,” and a “Gibson” swaps the olive for a cocktail onion.Many great things have been written about the Martini and two come to mind: writer H.L. Mencken referred to it as “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.” And Ernest Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms wrote, “I’ve never tasted anything so cool and clean…They make me feel civilized.”

Lucky for us, India’s first lady of Gin, aka Gigglewater aka Karina Aggarwal fixed us perfect Martini. Here are 3 most important things to help us enjoy a martini:

  1. Know your kind. dry, sweet, or dirty,  olive or twist, try them and see which one sticks. It’s a high alcohol drink so it’s important to fin your preferred balance.
  2. The dilution is really important which is why the stir is not so simple. This is not masala chai, so the stir has to be smooth yet consistent, to mix and lower the temperature without diluting the drink with water.
  3. Temperature: Being a high alcohol content mix, it has to be served just right. Get the Temperature wrong and it can be like pouring hot lava! Which is why it is best ordered at the bar right across from the bartender!

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