June 19: National Martini Day

Ladies and gentlemen, let us raise a glass to that king of cocktails, The Martini. FDR MartiniAccording to the internet today is National Martini Day. Why? Who cares? Let’s just drink!

Now, the Martini’s history is oddly murky. What we know for sure is that its origins can be traced to the late 19th century when drinks combining gin and dry vermouth started appearing in bartending books. The drink’s name is probably a spin on an older drink called the Martinez, which shares some ingredients and preparation style. It’s said that the Martinez was popular at San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel in the 1860s, and was named for the nearby town of Martinez, California. However, the old Knickerbocker Hotel in New York also made a claim to creating the Martini. It’s also said that it’s name comes from the Italian vermouth company Martini.

No matter where it was born, we do know that the rise of illegal gin during Prohibition made the Martini quite popular in America, to the point that now lots of less classy bars will call any drink served in a cocktail glass a Martini, which is just wrong. In fact, the popular “vodka Martini” is in fact an old drink called a Kangaroo.

Anyhow, a normal Martini is 2 ounces of gin with a half ounce of dry vermouth, stirred on ice and poured in to a cocktail glass with an olive garnish. However, I want to introduce you to the special recipe of one of history’s great Martini lovers: President Franklin Roosevelt. FDR was well known for his Martinis, and in fact waited patiently until Midnight of December 5th, 1933 so he could make a Martini to celebrate the end of Prohibition. FDR’s recipe is a variation on the Dirty Martini with a bit of olive brine, and just like James Bond, Roosevelt enjoyed his Martinis shaken, not stirred.

FDR’s Martini

  • 2 ounces Gin
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon olive brine

Rub a lemon peel around the rim of a chilled cocktail glass. Shake the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker half-filled with crushed ice, strain in to the glass, garnish with an olive.

Tomorrow: An orange drink to celebrate a blues movie.

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One response

  1. […] On February 20, 1933, Congress proposed the 21st Amendment, which upon ratification would end Prohibition immediately. While America waited for repeal, Roosevelt signed the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 22, which authorized the sale of 3.2% beer, the alcohol content of which was considered to be too low to be intoxicating. Americans were happy to have their beer back, and soon after bars and pubs began to reopen. On April 10, Michigan voted for repeal, making it the first of the 36 states required to end Prohibition. Over the next eight months, a further 35 states ratified the 21st Amendment, with Utah being the state that officially re-legalized liquor. President Roosevelt celebrated that evening by mixing one of his famed Martinis. […]

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