Stir together some gin and vermouth and add an olive to garnish. June 19 is National Martini Day! Join us to discover some history about the martini and learn about the various types to enjoy.
No matter whether you enjoy your martini shaken or stirred, wet or dry or any of the other variations, today is the day to celebrate the drink that was a favorite of James Bond and many other celebrities.
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What is a Martini?
A martini is a cocktail that is made with vermouth and gin. The drink is served in a martini glass and often garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. Sometimes, it has the addition of a dash of bitters.
Over the years, the martini has become one of the most-known cocktails. Bartenders seem to differ on what makes the perfect martini, but all agree that it is a popular drink.
Originally, a martini was a gin based drink, but over time many people prefer, and many bartenders make, a vodka based martini. (This may have something to do with the fact that gin can be smelled on your breath after drinking it and vodka is less likely to be detected!)
History of the martini
It is always fun to discover the origin of some of our favorite cocktails. Learning how they came to be can even make us appreciate them more.
If this excites you, be sure to check out the pina colada origin to learn how this popular summer cocktail came to be.
There are several ideas about the origin of the first martini. Some drink historians believe that the martini was created in the early 1900’s by a bartender in New York named Martini.
Others think that the maker of a popular vermouth brand – Martini & Rossi created the drink.
The most accepted theory is that a bartender in California who worked at the Occidental Hotel invented the drink in the late 1800’s for a miner who had just struck gold.
The story says that the miner wanted champagne to celebrate but the bar didn’t have any in stock at the time, so Jerry Thomas, the bartender made a drink with the ingredients he did have and the martini was born.
The first official mention of the martini was in 1888, when it was included in the New and Improved Illustrated Bartending Manual.
Fun Facts about Martinis
Brush up on your knowledge of martinis with these fun facts.
- James Bond may have liked his martinis shaken, but many bartenders suggest stirring them for a more velvety drink.
- Harry Craddock, author of the Savoy Cocktail Book popularized the martini with his dry martini recipe in the 1930s.
- The martini glass was used for other drinks before the actual martini became popular. It was originally known as a cocktail glass
- A “perfect martini” is made with equal parts of gin and vermouth, with the vermouth portion having an equal amount of both sweet and dry vermouth.
- Ernest Hemingway and Humphrey Bogart were both martini lovers.
- Prohibition-era martinis were quite “wet” when compared to the dry martinis popular today. As gin became more available after the prohibition, the drink became progressively dryer.
- Bars in America often feature a martini glass with an olive on their establishment signs.
- The Algonquin Hotel in New York City serves a $10,000 martini to their rich patrons. It is garnished with a real diamond!
- George Burns is famous for saying “I never go jogging, it makes me spill my martini.”
How do you garnish a martini?
Since a martini is typically made with vodka or gin, it tends to be on the dry side, rather than sweet. It stands to reason that traditional garnishes for a martini are also sour types of additions.
There is lots of room to experiment when you garnish a martini. But keep in mind that the type of garnish you use can change the taste of the actual martini so care should be taken.
The most common type of garnish is olives and a twist of citrus. Pickled onions are also used, but then the drink is more appropriately called a Gibson.
Other garnishes to try are cherries, sour apple slices and spicy peppers.
And if your drink is called a martini simply because it is enjoyed in a martini glass, like so many blogger martinis, then the sky is the limit when it comes to garnishes.
Just be sure to pair the taste of the drink with the garnish so that they compliment each other.
Here are some ideas:
- Green olives for gin martinis
- Pickled pearl onions for a Gibson martini
- Lemon twists for dirty martinis
- Citrus for a vodka martini
- Cherries for fruity martinis
- Maraschino cherries for chocolate martinis
- Green apples for appletinis
- Spicy peppers to give your martini a kick
- Orange peel, or grapefruit peel to enhance the botanicals in some gin martinis
- Bitters to alter the color and change the flavor slightly
Types of Martinis
Since the martini is such a popular drink, it stands to reason that there will be many varieties of them. Here are some commons ones:
- Dry and Wet Martini – You have more dry vermouth in a wet martini.
- Shaken and Stirred Martini – Stirred is preferred so as not to dilute the alcohol.
- Straight up and on the rocks Martini – with or without ice?
- Dirty Martini – adds a splash of olive brine for a cloudy look
- Gin and Vodka Martini – Gin was the original version.
- Gibson Martini – garnished with a pickled onion
- Vesper Martini (James Bond’s favorite) – Made with gin, vodka, a splash of Lillet Blanc and garnished with a lemon peel
These are traditional martini variations but there are also dozens of other martini recipes made with additional ingredients which change the taste dramatically.
How to observe National Martini Day
There are lots of obvious ways to celebrate National Martini Day – just enjoy martinis today! Here are a few other creative ideas to help honor this day.
- Invite your friends over for a Martini Party and share your favorite version with them.
- Keep your martini really cold by serving it in copper martini glasses.
- Watch a James Bond movie while enjoying a martini.
- Read a book about the history of drinks, cocktails and bartending.
- Watch the documentary The Martini – The Iconic Cocktail.
- Give your favorite guy a necktie decorated with martini glasses.
- Try one of the Martini Recipes featured below for a new take on the popular drink.
- Use the hashtag #NationalMartiniDay to spread the word about the day on social media. Here is a tweet to get you started:
Fun Martini Recipes to Celebrate National Martini Day
A traditional martini may only use gin and vermouth, but adventuresome cocktail makers have come up with lots of other variations to try if you are not a purist.
For most of these, the martini glass is the only real connection to the actual drink, but they are still fun to try!
Here are a few to experiment with:
- The hurricane martini recipe throws caution to the wind with a fruity combination served in a martini glass.
- Mint, jalapeno and cucumber takes the martini to a feisty height in this cucumber mint martini.
- This caramel apple martini is perfect for the taste of fall.
- Cold coffee, Kahlua and vodka team up in this coffee chocolate martini.
- This nutella martini is more like a dessert than a cocktail!
- Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day – an International Incident Martini.
- Garnish this pretty pink peppermint martini with a candy cane and you have the perfect holiday cocktail.
- A lavender lemonade martini cocktail is a great summer celebration drink.
- Warm up in winter with a hot chocolate martini.
- Your Halloween party will be complete with this candy corn martini.
What are National Days?
National days of the year are a fun way to celebrate odd and unusual foods, animals and items that you come into contact with.
Be sure to check out my National Day’s Guide for more fun days to celebrate.
There are close to 2000 National Days in the year and over 150 of them are celebrated in June. To see them all, have a look at this post to discover more about the National Days in June, as well as the June Printable Calendar of National Days.
Is food your thing? Each day of the month has a food or drink associated with it, too. You’ll find all the June Food Holidays here.
Be sure to also check out these other National Days devoted to cocktails:
- National Cosmopolitan Day
- National Mint Julep Day
- National Cocktail Day
- National Hot Buttered Rum Day
- National Mimosa Day
- National Pina Colada Day
- National Irish Coffee Day
Pin this post for National Martini Day for later
Would you like a reminder of this post for National Martini Day? Just pin this image to one of your cocktail boards on Pinterest so that you can easily find it later.
No matter your preference, we can all agree that a martin is an elegant and sophisticated drink very deserving of their own National Day!
And of course, the perfect way to celebrate National Martini Day is with the classic gin martini. Print out and try the recipe below.
- 2 1/2 ounces of Gin
- 1/2 ounce of dry Vermouth
- Dash of Angostura Bitters (optional)
- Olives to garnish
- Chill a martini glass with ice and set it aside.
- Add the gin and dry vermouth to a glass with ice. Stir for 30 seconds.
- Remove the ice from the glass and strain the mixture into the chilled martini glass.
- Add a dash of angostura bitters, if desired.
- Garnish with olives and serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 189Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 30mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g
Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.