Of Olives and Martinis
Our Wednesday blogs often focus on wines, cocktails, and beverages from around the world. But inspired by all our talk of olives over on Facebook, we’re taking a look at the country where our office is based, the United States, for this week’s cocktail: the classic martini. After all, a martini is rarely complete without the addition of a green olive. In fact, when that olive isn’t added? It technically goes by another name entirely.
The martini is perhaps one of the most basic of all cocktails, especially considering the wacky (but still tasty) concoctions that mixologists around the globe are constantly coming up with. That said, the exact origins of the cocktail are unclear. Some theorists posit that it hails from California during the Gold Rush (specifically the town of Martinez), while others claim it was from New York, where it was named after the Martini & Rossi vermouth. Either way, the recipe dates back to the 1800s, with the first published recipe dating back to the 1880s — although that recipe called for a lemon (which, we have a feeling, our friends in Greece could get behind).
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Martini recipes from the 1800s typically also featured gin and dry vermouth in a 1:1 ratio. Today you’d be hard pressed to find that ratio when ordering a martini in a bar, as gin typically gets a splash or two more (and don’t be surprised when it comes in a 4:1 ratio). Vodka too can be a part of a modern-day martini.
But if we’re talking the classic drink, then let’s stick to the basics: gin, vermouth, and, you guessed it, olives. The olives can be a garnish alone, as they’re rinsed before being speared and used as a garnish, but even then the salty flavor of the olive enhances the flavors of the alcohol. A dirty martini, on the other hand, uses a bit of olive juice in the alcohol to give the cocktail a cloudy look and to give the cocktail an added kick. If you really want to experiment with the flavors though, use stuffed olives instead!
Olives aren’t the only kind of garnish for a martini of course. Nowadays, you can often find a lemon peel in your martini, or even an apple slice or cherry. But are those ‘true’ martinis? You be the judge.
How do you take your martini?
By Liz Hall
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