Cult Classics: The Martini


“A martini,” says, US bartender, Joaquin Simo, “plays beautifully with raw oysters, bloody steaks, and decisions both good and questionable. What other cocktail can offer such versatility and imbue its imbiber with an unparalleled appearance in sophistication?”


Guaranteed sophistication aside, no other cocktail has evoked more debate around its history, methodology or ingredients than the martini. From its purist form, to the modern classics; dry, dirty, shaken or stirred; olives or with a twist - there is no debate of the martini’s undisputed place in pop culture and history.

So everyone, please raise your conical-shaped glass, and take a moment to get down and dirty with these facts on the never dull, but always inimitable martini:

  • Its discernable placement in the generational hands of movie stars and celebrities, has seen notorious lovers of the martini include Ernest Hemingway, Humphrey Bogart, Marlene Dietrich and David Niven. But perhaps no real or fictional individual has sealed its place in pop culture as much as Bond. James Bond.

  • Though its popularity can also be attributed to liquor companies engaging in a concerted marketing push for gin in the 1950s and vodka in the 1970s.

  • Bond (James Bond) enjoyed his martinis shaken not stirred, but many bartenders caution against this, as shaking can lead to over-dilution and creates small shards of broken ice, whereas stirring results in a velvety, well-blended tipple.

  • Last Bond-related martini fact: did you know Daniel Craig is the most martini-loving James Bond of all time? He’s tipped back 3.33 per film (despite not drinking any martinis in Skyfall - obviously he had some catching up to do)?

  • These days, vodka martinis may be as commonly ordered as gin martinis, but if you’re after a traditional tipple, gin is the correct choice. Though a Vesper, which uses a bit of both, is not a barbaric option.

  • In 1943, US  President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, gave Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, his first martini, eventually leading Soviet statesman, Nikita Khrushchev, to later declare the martini, “America’s lethal weapon”.

  • The martini’s origin stories are plentiful and cloudy (some might say, like a good martini should be), so we’re not even going to back any particular one. However, here’s one that crops up on the reg: in the 1870s, a San Francisco bartender, named Jerry Thomas (the era’s Michael Jordan of mixology), is said to have invented the drink for a gold miner who wanted something special in exchange for a gold nugget. Since the miner was heading back to Martinez, California, Jerry named the drink for the city. Seems like a fair swap.

  • And, of course, the martini has its own dedicated day: National Martini Day is 19 June. Consume one whilst watching inane reality TV on the couch, and feel your mediocrity melt away.


Martini Recipe

60ml of your favourite gin

5ml Vermouth

3 Olives

  • Take the time to chill your martini glass in the fridge. Or if you simply can’t wait, fill your glass with ice and gently swill it around to cool the glass.

  • Pour vermouth into a tall glass or a shaker.

  • Add your gin.

  • Stir, lovingly, with a long spoon.

  • Pour it into an empty, chilled martini glass.

  • Garnish with three olives (Riki Carter, Highball Manager, says this follows an age-old rule that a martini should be consumed in three sips. Hence, one olive per sip).

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And don’t forget to grab your Highball tickets!


Andrew Stantiall