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The Classic Martini: If 007 Drinks Them, You Should Too

One martini is all right. Two are too many and three are not enough.

James Thurber

The History Of The Martini

First appearing in the Bartender’s Manual in the 1880’s, there are varying stories about the origin of the martini. Some believe it came out of San Francisco during the Gold Rush, others link it back to the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York. Whichever coast it came from, people living before its invention were missing out.

Gin and dry vermouth became the standard recipe for a traditional martini, usually garnished with an olive or lemon twist.

martini

Over the years, less vermouth and more gin has been incorporated. It is also more common these days to see vodka martinis, which can likely be attributed to James Bonds order for a vodka martini… shaken, not stirred.

One note about martini terminology is that if you order your martini “dry,” it will have less dry vermouth. This can be confusing, but true martini connoisseurs know that dry really just means more of the hard stuff and less vermouth (which clocks in at just 18% alcohol, because it is really just fortified wine).

Pecold / Shutterstock.com

If You Like It Dirty

A dirty martini has olive brine mixed in with it, for a savory, ice cold drink. One who loves dirty martinis, loves dirty martinis. The loyal dirty martini club is comprised of vodka and gin drinkers, and both are welcome as long as they garnish with plenty of olives.

Some prefer a whisper of olive juice and others want their dirty martini to be filthy. Whatever your preference, you’re in control of how much olive juice you want to use.

*Pro tip: If you are feeling adventurous, sub out olive juice for pepperoncini juice. It’s a little spicy and tangier but simply delicious.

Shaken, Not Stirred

Traditionally martinis were stirred, but a shaken martini has become just about as popular as the vodka martini has. While both details stray from the original, they are so popular that they’ve earned their permanent place in the martini handbook.

A stirred martini will dilute less and become viscous. A shaken martini is aerated and diluted by the ice its shaken with. This is really just a preference, but either will get you where you’re trying to go!

Garnish Me Up, Buttercup

An olive, a twist, an ONION? How about a bleu cheese stuffed olive? Or a garlic stuffed olive? The possibilities are endless. An olive (or 12) should be in a dirty martini, but if you mix it up and drop a twist in there, it can be a total game changer.

On a rare occasion you’ll see someone drinking a Gibson, which is a martini garnished with an onion.

Experiment with all of them and different combinations until you find the perfect garnish.

A Classic Martini

A classy drink that never goes out of style
Prep Time 5 mins
Course cocktails
Cuisine American
Servings 1 person

Equipment

  • Shaker tin
  • Jigger
  • Cocktail Strainer
  • Martini or coupe glass
  • Citrus peeler (for lemon twist, if needed)
  • Toothpick (for olives, if needed)

Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz. Vodka or gin
  • .5 oz. Dry vermouth
  • .5-1 oz. Olive juice *if making dirty martini
  • 1-4 Olives
  • 1 Lemon

Instructions
 

  • Fill shaker with ice
  • Pour all liquid ingredients into tin
  • Shake VIGOROUSLY for 8-10 seconds (or stir for 15-20 seconds)
  • Strain into chilled martini or coupe glass
  • Garnish with olives, lemon twist or both
Keyword cocktails

More Great Martini Quotes

”I had never tasted anything so cool and clean.” “They made me feel civilized.”

Ernest Hemingway novel Farewell to Arms

“What Aristotele said of Greek tragedy is also true of the Martini: “Having passed through many changes, it found its natural forms, and there it stopped”.

Lowell Edmunds, Martini Straight Up

“I never go jogging, it makes me spill my martini.”

George Burns

“Happiness is…finding two olives in your martini when you’re hungry.”

Johnny Carson

“He knows just how I like my martini – full of alcohol.”

Homer Simpson

“I’m not talking a cup of cheap gin splashed over an ice cube. I’m talking satin, fire and ice; Fred Astaire in a glass; surgical cleanliness, insight.. comfort; redemption and absolution. I’m talking MARTINI.”

Anonymous

“We know the best feeling in the world is the one between the second and third martini”. 

Al Pacino

About The Author

Jaime Suhre

Jaime Suhre

Jaime Garza is a member of the Manopause Team who happens to be well-versed in the language of cocktails and alcohol. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in history, and found herself behind the stick, slinging drinks for nearly 8 years (clearly using that fancy degree). Writing has always been one of her hobbies, and now she’s combining her talents to bring you A+ booze knowledge and some incredible recipes.

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