• April 11, 2021

 Story time! The first Martini

ByKayla

Mar 1, 2021 ,
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One of my long-time hobbies is researching how drinks have changed over time to become the modern drinks we know today. I felt learning these drinks from the late 1800s, and the trek to their modern counterparts helped me become a better cocktail crafter. It taught me to experiment, try strange things, and know I was a part of a long history of bartenders doing the same thing. Each drink I’ve learned about and written about (on another long-term project) has given me insight and inspiration to keep doing this thing I love; I’d like to share one of those stories with you today.

One of my favorite subjects is the Martini; it’s filled with conflicting stories, plot twists, different recipes, FDR, and even an ANSI guide to making it correctly(even if they made it to prove a point and as a joke.) This little story here isn’t about the origin point for the drink or its later history. If everyone wants that, I would be more than happy to write more on it; I’ve written a ton about it lately for another project. This story here, however, is about the first drink called a Martini.

When people think of a Martini now, it’s often chilled vodka and an olive. I recall getting a drink thrown at me once for daring to zest a lemon peel over the top and wash the glass in Vermouth. Because “that’s just not a Martini!” But it was a Martini, and so is the photo above. The Martini isn’t some modern upper crust minimalist way to drink chilled vodka. Although it genuinely did became an upper-class drink in its long history(some fantastic books exist to tell that tale already.) Its first version gives us a look into a far more broad interpretation of the drink that might make you feel a little more comfortable trying some things with it.

As far as I know, the 1888 New and Improved Bartenders Manual is where we find the first drink named the Martini. At first glance, it has the makings of a proper Martini by many people’s modern standards(Including mine for a long time.) You have the Old Tom Gin and the Vermouth, but then suddenly, the drink loses familiarity with the modern era. Below I’ve transcribed it to mostly modern afk barscript.

The #57 Martini Cocktail (Fancy Bar Glass)

  • 2 oz Vermouth
  • 2 oz Old Tom Gin
  • 2-3 Dashes Boker’s Bitters
  • 2-3 Dashes Gomme Syrup
  • One dash Curaçao

Stir in a large bar glass with ice, twist lemon peel over the drink, and strain into a Fancy Bar Glass.

You might be shocked to see that sugar and orange liquor was in this first recipe. Many Martini drinkers today would spit this out as too sweet and fruity. However, it stands at the first reference to the Martini Cocktail. A slightly sweet gin and vermouth drink with a bitter orange back flavor. Age the Old Tom Gin(if you’re curious, Old Tom Gin is an older recipe/style of gin), and you’d find many modern bartenders calling this a gin Old-Fashioned with Vermouth for some reason.

When I think of this version of the Martini, I always enjoy thinking about it as a bright blue club drink. While it took until the 1920s for the Dutch to bring us Blue Curaçao, it still brings me a spark of joy to think of a Martini as a colorful drink sweet drink. I genuinely hope this helps you think of traditional cocktails in a new light, and when you’re making cocktails at home, and not to be afraid to substitute or change something. Because bartenders have been doing that since we could document bartenders, drinks evolve and change, sometimes for the better, and that comes from trying new things in your recipes.

#57 Still Counts as a Martini Cocktail (Burgundy Glass)

  • 2 oz Aged Bol’s Genever
  • 2 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 1 oz Red Curaçao
  • 2 Dashs of Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Lemon peel

In a shaker, add the Bol’s, Vermouth, and Red Curaçao with two dashes of bitters. Stir till ice forms on the outside of the shaker; strain into a Burgundy Glass, then zest the lemon oil from the peel over the drink and serve.

My version here I made red, but you could use any beautiful colors that Curaçao comes in now. You can even make it clear by using Triple Sec or slightly cloudy with top-shelf orange liquor.

One of my long-time hobbies is researching how drinks have changed over time to become the modern drinks we know today. I felt learning these drinks from the late 1800s, and the trek to their modern counterparts helped me become a better cocktail crafter. It taught me to experiment, try strange things, and know I was a part of a long history of bartenders doing the same thing. Each drink I’ve learned about and written about (on another long-term project) has given me insight and inspiration to keep doing this thing I love; I’d like to share one of those stories with you today.

One of my favorite subjects is the Martini; it’s filled with conflicting stories, plot twists, different recipes, FDR, and even an ANSI guide to making it correctly(even if they made it to prove a point and as a joke.) This little story here isn’t about the origin point for the drink or its later history. If everyone wants that, I would be more than happy to write more on it; I’ve written a ton about it lately for another project. This story here, however, is about the first drink called a Martini.

When people think of a Martini now, it’s often chilled vodka and an olive. I recall getting a drink thrown at me once for daring to zest a lemon peel over the top and wash the glass in Vermouth. Because “that’s just not a Martini!” But it was a Martini, and so is the photo above. The Martini isn’t some modern upper crust minimalist way to drink chilled vodka. Although it genuinely did became an upper-class drink in its long history(some fantastic books exist to tell that tale already.) Its first version gives us a look into a far more broad interpretation of the drink that might make you feel a little more comfortable trying some things with it.

As far as I know, the 1888 New and Improved Bartenders Manual is where we find the first drink named the Martini. At first glance, it has the makings of a proper Martini by many people’s modern standards(Including mine for a long time.) You have the Old Tom Gin and the Vermouth, but then suddenly, the drink loses familiarity with the modern era. Below I’ve transcribed it to mostly modern afk barscript.

The #57 Martini Cocktail (Fancy Bar Glass)

  • 2 oz Vermouth
  • 2 oz Old Tom Gin
  • 2-3 Dashes Boker’s Bitters
  • 2-3 Dashes Gomme Syrup
  • One dash Curaçao

Stir in a large bar glass with ice, twist lemon peel over the drink, and strain into a Fancy Bar Glass.

You might be shocked to see that sugar and orange liquor was in this first recipe. Many Martini drinkers today would spit this out as too sweet and fruity. However, it stands at the first reference to the Martini Cocktail. A slightly sweet gin and vermouth drink with a bitter orange back flavor. Age the Old Tom Gin(if you’re curious, Old Tom Gin is an older recipe/style of gin), and you’d find many modern bartenders calling this a gin Old-Fashioned with Vermouth for some reason.

When I think of this version of the Martini, I always enjoy thinking about it as a bright blue club drink. While it took until the 1920s for the Dutch to bring us Blue Curaçao, it still brings me a spark of joy to think of a Martini as a colorful drink sweet drink. I genuinely hope this helps you think of traditional cocktails in a new light, and when you’re making cocktails at home, and not to be afraid to substitute or change something. Because bartenders have been doing that since we could document bartenders, drinks evolve and change, sometimes for the better, and that comes from trying new things in your recipes.

#57 Still Counts as a Martini Cocktail (Burgundy Glass)

  • 2 oz Aged Bol’s Genever
  • 2 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 1 oz Red Curaçao
  • 2 Dashs of Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Lemon peel

In a shaker, add the Bol’s, Vermouth, and Red Curaçao with two dashes of bitters. Stir till ice forms on the outside of the shaker; strain into a Burgundy Glass, then zest the lemon oil from the peel over the drink and serve.

My version here I made red, but you could use any beautiful colors that Curaçao comes in now. You can even make it clear by using Triple Sec or slightly cloudy with top-shelf orange liquor.

 

 


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Kayla

Photographer, Published Bartender, Ex-Bar owner, Sci-Fi nerd, and sorta kinda gamer. She/her

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