How Did the Martini Originate?

Trends change constantly, and today, things are in one minute and out the next. This is true for everything, but especially for cocktails. However, there are a few drinks that never go out of style. People of all generations and from all over would recognize these drinks in an instant, and, arguably, one of the most popular is the martini. Martinis have been ordered in bars for decades and have outlasted many different trends over the years. Of course, martinis had to get their start somewhere.

So, how did this drink become the classic that it is today? At Rikasa, we know everything there is to know about mixology and good cocktails so we can give you a little bit of background information on the martini.

Who Made the First Martini?

One thing most people agree on is that the martini was created in the mid-1880s, but beyond that, there are a few different versions in history. One story is that the drink was named after the brand Martini & Rossi, which produced vermouth around this time. However, other stories are centered around California during the Gold Rush. These argued that the drink was first created in Martinez, California, where a gold miner went to a local bar to celebrate his finding, and this is what the bartender put together. Others believe that the drink originated at San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel around the same time. Supposedly, many people traveling to Martinez stopped at the hotel and ordered the drink, which was then named after the town.

The martini wasn’t entirely unlike any other drink in the 19th century. Many believe that martinis were based on a similar drink at the time, the Martinez, which was also similar to a Manhattan. Taste alone also might not be what helped elevate martinis to the status they have today. The drink got increasingly popular during Prohibition, when gin was one of the easiest liquors to get, making gin cocktails common.

What is Considered a Martini?

Everyone knows that a martini consists of gin and vermouth shaken or stirred, but the exact amounts can vary. Many also might not realize that today’s martinis differ from the original. Originally, martinis were made with a sweet type of gin, while today’s use dry gin. Some original recipes call for equal amounts of gin and vermouth, but the vermouth wasn’t always easy to come by in the 1900s. Between Prohibition and WWII, vermouth wasn’t often available, making martinis even drier. A dry martini is often a 6:1 gin to vermouth ratio, but some contain even less vermouth.

You can typically order a variation of martinis depending on your preferences, such as martinis with equal parts gin and vermouth, more vermouth than gin, or with olive juice. Usually, you’ll see martinis topped with an olive, lemon peel, or cocktail onions. Some martinis also add vodka.

Sometimes, drinks listed as a martini don’t really have anything in common with a traditional martini at all. Many different cocktails are often called a martini if they’re served in a martini glass, even if they don’t have gin or vermouth.

Try Our Take on Martinis at Rikasa

Some people don’t want to mess with a classic. However, modern twists on classics are what keep them going, and at Rikasa, we’re always looking for new ways to update old favorites and give them our own twist. This winter, Rikasa is offering three different martinis with seasonal flavors on our drink menu.

The Empress martini contains Empress gin, St. Elder Elderflower liqueur, freshly squeezed lemon juice, simple syrup, orange bitters, and a candied blood orange wheel. If you prefer vodka to gin, try the Caramel Apple martini, made with Van Gogh Butch caramel vodka and Dekuyper Sour Apple schnapps with a caramel sugar rim. There’s also the Cheerful Cherry Smoked martini, made with Three Olives cherry vodka, cherry bitters, Herring’s cherry liqueur, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, smoked with cherry wood chips, Luxardo maraschino cherry, and a lime twist.

Make your reservations to stop by for drinks in Pittston today.