Learn Where Martinis Came From

If you like martinis then read on and learn about both the history of the martini and about a tasty, cool cocktail called the Lemon Drop Martini.

History of the Martini

The martini is a cocktail made with gin or vodka and dry white vermouth, and is considered by many to be among the top six variations of a cocktail type drink.

It is believed that the martini originated in Martinez, which is the town where I grew up. Martinez is located on the south side of the Carquinez Strait in the San Francisco Bay Area, facing the city of Benicia. It s the birthplace of New York Yankee baseball star Joe DiMaggio, and was the childhood home of Norv Turner, head coach of the Washington Redskins football team.

If you go to the corner of the intersection of Alhambra Avenue and Masonic Street, you will find a plaque commemorating the birth of the martini. The first known reference to the martini being invented in Martinez can be found in The Bon Vivant s Companion: Or How to Mix Drinks (1887 edition), by Professor Jerry Thomas, a head bartender who worked in many well know places, including the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, California. According to George A. Zabriske, who republished the original book in 1928, Jerry Thomas had a client who took a ferry from the Occidental Hotel to Martinez, each morning. Thomas mixed him a Martinez to keep the morning chill off, and named the drink after his client s destination.

The Lemon Drop Martini

One of my favorite versions of the martini is the Lemon Drop Martini. This drink is a sweet, lemony drink that became popular during the 1970 s in California. Remember the lemon drop candies you used to get at the movies when you were a kid? This drink has become a favorite on the West Coast. One account suggests that this drink originated in a bar called Henry s Africa in San Francisco. This was a well known singles bar and was said to develop and push girl drinks . These are drinks that are made very sweet to cover the taste of alcohol.

Lemon Drop Martini Recipe

The Lemon Drop Martini has become a favorite of my guests. Here is the recipe:

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce Triple Sec
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed or bottled lemon juice
Ice cubes
Lemon Wedge or Twist

To prepare glass, put it into the freezer until it is frosty cold. Then rub the rim of the glass with lemon and dip the glass in super fine sugar to create an edge of sugar on the glass.

Mix the vodka, Triple Sec, sugar, and lemon juice in a shaker half filled with ice; shake well until well blended. Pour strained liquid into sugar rimmed martini glass and garnish with lemon.

Then enjoy! Remember to be careful drinking these. They really are sweet, but potent! And remember, the next time you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, stop by a little town called Martinez and see where the martini was born.

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About The Author, Eileen Childs
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