June 18, 2017 – Would the world be a better place if everyone observed World Martini Day on Monday? We can all do our patriotic duty to honor this great American invention and turn it into Mellow Monday, one martini at a time (remember you have to work on Tuesday.)
The origin of the martini is in dispute, as seems to be the case with just about every cocktail creation. One story is that a lucky gold miner who’d struck it rich was celebrating in the California town of Martinez. The bartender concocted a special drink consisting of gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur and a slice of lemon. Another version has it that the miner was at a bar in San Francisco. Perhaps its forerunner was the Martinez cocktail served at San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel to commuters on the evening ferry that ran between the city and Martinez across the Bay. The recipe for this cocktail was documented in the “Bartender’s Guide, How to Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks” by Jerry Thomas in 1887 and it is a very similar recipe. Another theory has it that it came from vermouth maker Martini & Rossi whose product was introduced in the mid-1800s. The early recipes sometimes had more vermouth than gin.
Prohibition put the martini on the map. Gin was easy to make illegally and of necessity, the drink became drier and drier. It’s popularity even increased after Repeal as well-made gin became available. As vodka became popular in the 1950s, the vodka martini emerged on the scene. It is known as a “kangaroo” although most people just ask for a vodka martini. Then, of course, there was a fellow named James Bond and his famous quote “shaken, not stirred”. The martini became the sex symbol of the cocktail world.
White spirits, like brown spirits, took a bath in the 1980s and 90s as wine became more popular and the spirits category was in the doldrums. But the current cocktail craze has made spirits the fastest growing category and presented great opportunities for boutique gins and vodkas.
The vodka martini is good for another industry – olives. The saltiness of olives is a natural complement to vodka. And if California can lay claim to the origin of the martini, it is appropriate that California is the only state where olives are grown commercially. Olives can make up one of your five daily fruit portions but you have to eat 16 so snack the other 15 on the side. If you substitute an onion for an olive, you are drinking a Gibson, not a martini.
If a vodka martini is your thing, here’s one of the best. Happy Monday!
elit Vodka Dirty Martini
3 parts elit Vodka
Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives
Method: Pour elit into a mixing glass with ice and stir until ice cold. Strain and serve up. Garnish with blue cheese stuffed olives.