The Martini is a cocktail made with gin (or vodka) and vermouth. All ingredients are poured into a mixer with ice cubes. The ingredients are mixed then strained and served ‘straight up’ (without ice) in a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with either a green olive or a twist of lemon (a strip of the peel, usually squeezed or twisted to express volatile oils onto the surface of the drink).

Garnishing with a pickled onion instead makes it a Gibson. The dryness of a martini refers to the amount of vermouth used in the drink, with a very dry Martini having little or no Vermouth.

The exact origin of the Martini is unclear however the most likely explanation is that it was simply a shortening of the main ingredient, Martini branded vermouth. One popular alternative suggests it evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez served at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco in 1862, which people frequented before taking an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez.

The original Martinez cocktail consisted of two ounces of Italian Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth, one ounce Old Tom sweet gin, two dashes maraschino liquor, one dash bitters, shaken, and served with a twist of lemon. By the end of the 19th century, the martini had morphed into a simpler form: two dashes of Orange bitters, mixed with half a jigger of dry French vermouth and half a jigger of dry English gin, stirred and served with an olive.

But it was Prohibition and the relative ease of illegal gin manufacture that led to the martini’s rise as the predominant cocktail of the mid 20th century. With the repeal of Prohibition, and the ready availability of quality gin, the drink became progressively dryer. In the 1970s and 80s, the martini came to be seen as old-fashioned and was replaced by more intricate cocktails and wine spritzers, but the mid-1990s saw a resurgence in the drink and an explosion of new versions. Some of the newer versions (e.g., appletini, peach martini, chocolate martini), take their name not from the ingredients, but from the cocktail glass they share with the martini.

W. Somerset Maugham declared ‘martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other.’ James Bond ordered his ‘shaken, not stirred,’ which is properly called a ‘Bradford.’

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