We need to have a talk about Martinis.
We aren’t going to drink them. Well, you can if you want, but no one in this weeks episode will. The reason we need to talk about Martinis is that the name has been massively abused over the years and I think we need to put a stop to it.
The origins of the Martini are not without some speculation but some believe that the drink descends from the Martinez, a drink likely invented in the San Francisco Bay area, which is as follows:
- 1 dash of Boker’s Bitters
- 1 tsp Maraschino Liqueur
- 1oz Old Tom Gin
- 2oz of Sweet Vermouth (Italian)
Stir with two small lumps of ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a quarter slice of lemon added to the drink.
Looking at this recipe, I feel like we can see where the natural lineage to the Martini comes. We have a drink that is primarily composed of gin and vermouth with a dash of bitters and some cherry liqueur. The major difference between the martinez and the Martini, is the amount of sweetness. The invention of the Column Still in the mid 19th century allowed for the development of a higher proof alcohol that contained less sugar. This eventually translated to the development of London Dry Gin which became exceedingly popular worldwide and is the foundation for what people now associate as being the default style of gin.
The Martini flips the proportions of gin to vermouth, adding 2oz of dry gin, 1oz of dry (French) vermouth, an optional dash of orange or aromatic bitters, and either a lemon twist or an olive garnish.
The lineage is apparent, but the drink is vastly different than the martinez, so rather than calling this drink a Dry Martinez, giving it a different name that is unique yet referential seems fitting.
Now let’s move onto a drink that was recently posted on reddit.com/r/cocktails:
- 35ml Fresh Espresso
- 25ml Vodka
- 15ml Crème de Cacao
- 15ml Kahlua
(I’m gonna make up the instructions here, since they weren’t given): Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Float a few coffee beans on the foam for garnish.
The question should be obvious: Why the fuck is this called a Martini? The only real answer is this: Martinis began having the option of being made with vodka in the mid/late twentieth century, and thus, this drink contains vodka so it can be called a Martini.
I hate this. Don’t get me wrong, the drink is likely delicious. It would probably be a crowd pleaser on a lot of menus. But I hate it because it has no reason to tip it’s hat towards a historical link to the Martini. As best I can tell, it is suffering from a relatively new tradition of using the shape of a glass to determine the name of a drink: If a cocktail gets poured into a martini glass then it’s a Martini. If this same drink was poured into a short glass, it would perhaps be given a silly name, like a “Mochamrade” or a “Black Rushin’” (Cause caffeine. Hyperactive. “rushing”. Get it? Nevermind. Come back to me, I’ll have something better.)
My point is this: I think names are important. When you make a drink and you want to share it with the world, it should have a good name. If that drink is inspired by an already existing drink, you should pay tribute to that by either adding a modifier to the name or paying tribute to the name through variation (martinez -> martini).
- The Alexander cocktail is made with gin, creme de cacao & cream. If you replace the gin with brandy, you get the Brandy Alexander. The original cocktail is named, and modifier has been added.
- The Martini was originally made with gin. If you replace the gin with vodka, you have a Vodka Martini.
- If you then replace the dry vermouth with hot fudge, and the olive with a snickers bar. You don’t have have any kind of Martini. You have a problem. You have become Pam Poovey. And you might need to think about getting your insulin levels checked.
After all of this hubbub about names comes to the twist: I can’t tell you the name of this weeks TIP. I can’t tell you, because the name is a spoiler and nobody likes spoilers. I also don’t like violating the NDA contract I signed when I started working at Floyd County, and I like my job, so I’m not going to ruin jokes without permission.
That said, come up with a few names yourself, see if anyone can guess what Archer calls this drink:
- 2 oz blanco tequila
- 1 oz Kahlua
Pour ingredients into an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes. Swirl the glass gently a few times to mix the ingredients. Enjoy.
Beers. Tallboys. Also, if you live in a state or country where you are legally allowed to used a large glass smoking accessory for recreational or medicinal use… I guess that isn’t a drink… but if we’re talking about intoxication, it could fall into that category… right?
Vienna Sausages. Potato chips. Fastfood.
For more info on potentially proper cocktail naming conventions, check out this article over at ArtofDrink.com