Main Menu

The Martini


The Martini

The Martini

The Martini (American Dry)

3 oz Dry Gin
0.5 oz Noilly Prat Vermouth
1 dash Orange Bitters or Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and place in the freezer for 10+ minutes.
Place an empty coupe glass in the freezer as well.
Remove mixing glass, add large ice and stir gently.
Remove coupe from freezer, strain drink into it.
Garnish with an olive or…
Twist a broad piece of lemon peel over the glass to release the oils, rub over the rim, then drop into glass.

* * *

The Cocktail crawled out of the primordial punch bowl on all fours. When it eventually stood up and walked erect, it became the Martini. Even if you know nothing about mixed drinks, you still undoubtedly know something about the Martini: gin (or vodka, but not here) and vermouth — there is no question that this is a drink that reigns over all others.  Of course, it’s easy for me to simply say that the Martini is the ultimate cocktail, and it’s easy for you to take that at face value. The question for both of us to ask, of course, is: Why? For the answer to this, I turn to my wife and an excerpt from her forth-coming book, Gin: A Global History:

In Martini, Straight Up, Rutgers Classics professor Lowell Edmunds cogently observes that the Martini sends a series of specific messages. His codification is as follows: It is a distinctly American drink, urban and urbane, denoting high-status. It is a man’s drink and the drink of adults not children. It is inherently optimistic and belongs to the past. It is also rife with ambiguities. The Martini is both civilized and uncivilized. It unifies and separates; it is classic and individual; it is sensitive and tough. Given Mr. Edmunds’ astute observations, it is no wonder that Nikita Krushchev called the Martini ‘America’s most lethal weapon’.

In marketing, many believe that the most successful messaging is that which simultaneously sells two opposites: the affordable luxury car or the exclusive must-have. That seems to be the power of the Martini. Like its greatest proponent, James Bond, it’s both savage and refined. And, it’ll get you bombed — what’s not to love about that? Whereas other drinks like the Sour or the various tropical punches seek to provide a medley of flavors, the Martini — like the Cocktail before it — provides a thin platform upon which its spirit (gin) shines. Like the perfect steak, the Martini needs only minimal dressing before its presentation to polite society.

Now, why is our version called “American Dry”? More than any other drink, the Martini has inspired countless variations and differing opinions. Shaken or stirred. Gin or vodka. Vermouth or no vermouth. Technically, a Dry Martini is made with London Dry gin and Dry Vermouth (hence the clever name). We don’t have London Dry gin; instead, Leopold’s falls into a category that some call New American Dry. Likewise, the reformulated Noilly Prat is no longer as dry as it once was, changing our Martini in the process. Since we are classic in structure but not in materials, I thought “American Dry” a proper moniker to capture both the drink’s heritage as well as its modern spin. The bitters, while new to some, are an old move.

Stories of the Martini’s origin could fill volumes, so you’ll forgive me if I skip them here and simply state that the Martini “is”. It’s tasty, it’s powerful, and it’s classy. But, most of all, it is the definition of the modern American drink. Our first drink here at 12 Bottle Bar was the Cocktail; now, the Martini marks the end of phase one. All the bottles have been identified, and we have a handful of drinks to highlight each one. Indeed, the Martini marks not only a culmination but also a renaissance. Without it, modern drink culture would not exist, and we will use it as our springboard for the next phase of the 12 Bottle Bar experiment.