At the pinnacle of the Cold War, Russia’s premier, Nikita Khruschev called the martini “the USA’s most lethal weapon.” Amusingly, at the same time, Gerald Ford said “the three martini lunch is the epitome of American efficiency.” I’m inclined to agree with both of them.
Several nations lay claim to inventing the gin martini. Americans assert that a kindly bartender created it in the town of Martinez, California around the 1860s. The British say that they named the drink after the Martni-Henry rifle, the gun issued by the military in the1880s which had quite a kick. Folks from Italy allege that the drink was named after the vermouth maker Martini & Rossi, which began bottling the key martini ingredient in 1863. Despite the dispute of its origin, what is undeniable is how popular the potent drink has grown through the decades.
During Prohibition, the drink was swilled in every speakeasy across town—the potent vermouth flavor masked the bitter bathtub gin bootleggers brewed, making it amongst the most palatable. By the time alcohol was legal again in 1933, the martini was the cocktail of choice of the literati, like F. Scott Fitzergerald and Dorothy Parker, and was marked as a sophisticate’s drink (provided said sophisticate had a high tolerance). If you’re having your own three-martini lunch this weekend, this rendering by Gourmet is (almost) perfect.
How dry do you like your martinis?