The Most Debated Cocktail Of All Time - The Martini
“martini. Shaken, not stirred.”
We all have heard the line a dozen or so times, right? If you’re like me, you might have been wondering why, --over the course of 27 movies and 27 Martinis-- why did Bond insist on having his this particular way?
Was it his way of impressing the bartender with his cocktail knowledge? A personal preference? Or was just him being a pompous asshole of a customer?
(maybe it was little bit of all those things)
Either way, the Bond franchise has won. There’s no shortage of books, articles, and videos out there talking about Bond and the types of drinks he’s enjoyed while dispatching witty, articulate villains.
Join us as we venture past the days of James Bond to get a first look at the drink that he made famous.
The martini legend
During the Gold Rush, an old prospector in Martinez, California struck it rich. The man found gold. And like any person beset by immediate riches, he proceeded to waste it on things like fine booze.
The miner ran to his nearest watering hole and immediately asked for the finest bottle of champagne, but evidently, the bartender didn’t have it so he quickly concocted another drink with what he had on hand…
Gin, Bitters, Maraschino liqueur, and a slice of lemon for good measure.
Now, is this story true? Who knows! The important bit here is that the Martini was eventually recognized in the official Bartender’s Manual in the 1880s, making it over 130 years old.
This is where it gets interesting because what was once an obscure drink, became a household name. It became the go-to drink during the power lunches of the Madison avenue advertising executives in the 60s and 70s so much so that people termed the phrase “Three Martini Lunch.”
(That’s right, these dudes were three martini’s deep and heading back INTO the office AFTER lunch.)
The Martini debate
Now, the Martini is arguably one of the most famous cocktails of all time, but surprisingly, still one of the most controversial. There are two great debates...
Gin or Vodka?
Traditionally, gin is the alcohol of choice for those who like to be purists. That being said, trading it out for Vodka makes each sip go down smoother and more enjoyable for some.
Ultimately, this debate can only be settled by your tastebuds so try it both ways and let us know which you prefer!
Shaken or Stirred?
The Martini made famous by James Bond in Casino Royale is, in our humble opinion, the best variation. The famed creator of the Bond series, Sir Ian Flemming was once asked why Bond ordered his Martinis shaken. Fleming simply responded that he believed stirring the drink compromised the flavor.
So naturally we were curious about this and had to try it out.
The martini Recipe
- 3oz Gordon's Gin
- 1oz Stolichnya Vodka
- 1/2 Lillet Blanc Vermouth*
(*you can substitute extra dry Vermouth)
- place alcohol in your shaker with ice
- shake for 10 sec
- strain into a chilled Martini glass
- garnish with lemon peel twist
We decided this drink is good, but, admittedly, my palette isn’t refined enough to truly taste a difference. But I’m not gonna argue with Fleming and the Bond franchise---shaken it is.
Finally, what’s with the Martini glass?! It’s been called odious, impractical, and even miserable. In what is seemingly one of the worst engineered glasses of all time, the Martini glass makes no sense at first glance. Your drink slides haphazardly around with the slightest bit of movement-- and god forbid you start walking with this thing.
The history of the glass is one, surprisingly based in practicality. The long stem separated the bowl of the vessel thus ensuring the concoction wasn’t warmed up too much from the drinker’s hands. Even crazier is that the original version of the glass had sides that were a bit rounded, evidently inspired the curves of Marie Antionette’s boobs.
Really, you can’t make this stuff up.
Fast-forward a few bosoms later and the design evolved to the conical shape we have today.
Some argue that the wide rim we see on this modern martini glass helps the gin open up more so than if it were in a more narrow glass. We’re not so sure about that but if you drop that knowledge bomb at your next cocktail party, there’s bound to be someone impressed by it.
All debate aside, by now both the drink, AND the glass have earned their place at the bar -- even if drinking a martini means you’re bound to spill a bit.
Just be sure to grab a cocktail napkin.