"The only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.”
~ H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), referring to the Martini
The classic Martini, a gin and vermouth cocktail (with green olive or lemon garnish), hit its heights of popularity in the late 1950s and 1960s when the "three martini lunch" was standard practice during the "Mad Men" era for cosmopolitan executives and sophisticated urbanites. Popular variants replaced the gin with vodka ("Kangaroo"), the olive with an onion ("Gibson"), or James Bond's favorite "Vesper" (gin, vodka, and Kina Lillet vermouth, garnished with a twist of lemon peel), all while retaining the V-shaped Martini glass. Later, in an effort to cater to women in the 1970s, the Lemon Drop or Blue Lemon martini became a feature of Fern Bars, appealing to those wanting a sweeter and tart cocktail. Today's descendants of this classic cocktail include the ubiquitous “Appletini” the "Lycheetini,” and even the “Mochatini" which retain only the V-shaped glass as legacy. It should be noted, however, that according to secret surveys, the Appletini is the most despised cocktail by 49% of bartenders who negatively judge their customers who order them! Cheers! 🍸🍸🍸
One of the best known cocktails, and particularly favoured (shaken, not stirred) by fictional spy James Bond, the martini has many variants, all built from the base ingredients of gin and vermouth.
H. L. Mencken called the Martini "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet" and E. B. White called it "the elixir of quietude."
Numerous cocktails with names and ingredients similar to the modern-day martini were first seen in bartending guides of the late 19th century. In 1863, an Italian vermouth maker started marketing their product under the brand name of Martini, and the brand name may be the source of the cocktail's name.
Another popular theory suggests it evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez in the early 1860s at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, which people frequented before taking an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez.
And yet another theory links the first dry martini to the name of a bartender who concocted the drink at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City in 1911 or 1912.
Many variants of the Blue Lemon or Blue Lemon Drop martini do not always use classic martini ingredients but are always served in a martini glass, which shows off their beautiful blue color. In the 1970s, bars began catering to single women. They crafted colorful, sugary, feminine drinks to attract women to the bar, hoping that the men would follow and create a lively, diverse nightlife scene. One such bar was the legendary (now defunct) Henry Africa’s in San Francisco - the world’s first “fern bar,” the slang term for preppy bars that catered to singles, typically decorated with ferns and Tiffany lamps. There, bartender Norman Jay Hobday created his own take on this sweet cocktail drink trend: the Lemon Drop Martini. Made with vodka, orange liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup, the original Lemon Drop Martini was a sweet-tart cocktail designed to taste like the namesake hard candy. The addition of Chambord and Blue Curacao make the striking Blue Lemon Martini.
By designer Carol A.L. Martin, this tartan mimics the colours of this classic cocktail.
For a true blue martini recipe including Tanqueray Gin, Dry Vermouth, Blue Curacao and fresh lemon Juice, click the cocktail.