“I’ve never tasted anything so cool and clean…They make me feel civilized,” Ernest Hemingway once pronounced in A Farewell to Arms. He was talking about the martini. It’s true – a great martini is the height of happy hour civilization. Or at least a civilized happy hour. (Coincidentally, today has been declared Nation Martini Day.)
This classic cocktail with the power to make anyone feel glamorous — think Nick and Nora Charles and of course, Mr. Bond — has been the drink we now know and love. Its origins are muddled at best: Many believe the martini originated in northern California during the Gold Rush (perhaps in the town of Martinez); others swear it all began in 1906 with bartender Martini di Arma Taggia when he served John D. Rockefeller an “unfamiliar concoction” at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City. Kind of like the East Coast/West Coast rap debate. The two recipes differ in that one calls for maraschino liquor and a slice of lemon while the other prescribes a splash of orange bitters.
Whichever coast it hailed from, it’s evolved over time. A quick google search reveals endless iterations on the drink: saketini, golf martini, bikini martini, Bronx martini…the list goes on. And that’s before you get down to shaken or stirred, straight up or on the rocks, dirty with extra olives or a curled lemon twist. So many choices, even Bond himself would feel overwhelmed, though the spy only drank his martinis “shaken, not stirred.” We turned to expert James Atwood from The Tower Bar in Los Angeles, who shared the most classic of recipes with us.
Today, we will faithfully follow the Tower Bar’s recipe:
2 oz. of gin or vodka, a dry vermouth rinse, stirred or shaken and served up.