Yesterday I received a short text message from a friend alerting me of something: This year marks the first hundredth anniversary of the Martini.
Why did my friend think that little bit of trivia would interest me? Maybe it was because of the twenty-three DVDs containing as many James Bond movies that are on display in next to the player; or perhaps the fact that my wife presented me with a cocktail mixer on Father’s Day; maybe it was because he knew I was looking for a subject to blog about and that I would, in fact, drink one if I were to write about the cocktail. The truth is I do not know my friend’s motivations, but I do thank him. Cheers to you, Sergio!
Let’s get the facts out straight first.
Fact #1: Here is the American Bartender Association official recipe:
5.5 cl Gin
1.5 cl Dry Vermouth
Pour all ingredients into mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well Strain in chilled martini cocktail glass. Squeeze oil from lemon peel onto the drink, or garnish with olive.
(Vodka Martini - replace gin with vodka)
Fact #2: Neither James Bond, nor Ian Fleming invented it; although, both author and character played an important part in making it popular during the 50’s and 60’s.
Fact #3: The most accepted theory, if there is such a thing among men precariously holding cocktail glasses, is that the Martini was concocted in the bar of the popular Knickerbocket Hotel in New York City back in 1911 (hence the 100 year reference, duh!).
Is it martinis the drink of choice for spies and authors? Well, I’m certainly not in speaking terms with any spy, but I do know some famous authors who drank Martinis. Every writer worth his salt has a copy of Strunk & White’s The Element of Style, and this is important because, you see, E.B. White is usually quoted for calling the drink "the elixir of quietude". Journalist H.L. Mencken went further and called it "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.” I may name other authors, but that’d be just name-dropping.
I am not trying to take Wikipedia’s place as a source for quotable undisputed information so I won’t dwell on the cocktail’s origins; or how it became popular during the Prohibition years due to easiness of finding cheap Gin; or why Elle Wood’s father is holding a glass on every one of his scenes in Legally Blond.
The whole point of this entry is to celebrate my favorite cocktail, not because I’m an author/spy wannabe, but because I’ve learn to appreciate its taste, master its preparation and can sit and enjoy one, or two.
Shoot! My glass is empty. I’ll wrap this up and go mix another one.
For a more detailed history of the cocktail, here are some further reading links:
PS: I typed 23 James Bond movies. It was not a mistake. I have the 22 EON plus the 1983 renegade Never Say Never Again.