Friday, December 10, 2004

Apple #7: Martinis


I had a Martini last night, and it was pretty good. It certainly did the job. Actually, it was a Chocolate Martini. I've tried other varieties before, and I liked Cosmopolitans a lot. If I remember right, I also liked one that had Chambord in it.

Trying to find out the history of the Martini, and it looks like it's one of those things that seems to have emerged somehow in our culture, and everybody has a different idea of its beginnings. All of these stories sound a bit exaggerated to me.
  • One site says the Martini was invented in 1910 by the head bartender of NYC's Knickerbocker Hotel. The bartender's name was Martini di Arma di Taggia. His recipe was half gin and half Vermouth. According to this site, one customer, John D. Rockefeller, who sampled it, suggested that the bartender call it a Martini.
  • Another site says that a German named J.P. Schwartzendorf made the first Martini in the 18th century. He was a composer, inexplicably nicknamed "Martini." His Martini used 2 oz. of Belgian gin called Genevieve, 1 oz. Chablis, and a dash of cinnamon.
  • Yet another story goes that in the 1800's a gold miner asked a bartender in Martinez, California to come up with something new for him to drink. The bartender supposedly made a drink that was four parts Vermouth, one part gin, plus a dash of bitters and a cherry.
  • Still another story has it that the drink is named after the British rifle called the Martini and Henry, because the drink has such a kick.
  • Others say the name comes from the name of Vermouth used, Martini and Rossi
  • Many sites simply call it a "quintessential American invention"
  • In the early 1900's, New York City hotels served English tea at the customary 5:00 hour, and it wasn't long before that morphed into the 5:00 cocktail hour.
  • A site that describes the history of the cocktail shaker notes that one of the first recorded uses of a container for cocktails was in 1520 when Cortez wrote to King Charles V of Spain about a certain drink served to Montezuma in a golden container. The drink was made of cacao and foamed and frothed (see Apple #1?).
  • Famous people who have enjoyed Martinis:
    • Elvis
    • Dean Martin
    • James Bond (for a brief period in the 1950's, some shakers came equipped with electric stirrers, hence Bond's famous "shaken, not stirred" request. Today, however, that request is superfluous.)
    • Frank Sinatra
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt
    • Richard Nixon (supposedly drank Martinis the night Watergate broke)
    • W.C. Fields (called them angel's milk)
    • Noel Coward
    • Hemingway
    • Einstein


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