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I randomly wrote this once as an anonymous post to a friend's page.

Here, for your amusement and consideration, is my brief rant on the history of the "vodkatini". most information was gleaned from Drink Boy and Imbibe magazine.

: The Vodka Martini, sometimes referred to as a "Vodkatini", is an unfortunate misnomer and one of the most notable instances of historical fallacies in modern cocktail culture. In the 1950's the Smirnoff company launched an add campaign suggesting that a martini could be made "better" with vodka instead of the more traditional gin. But the change of the central ingredient should suggest an entirely new cocktail; in actuality, this "Vodkatini" had been in existence since the 1920's, in the form of a little-known drink called a "Kangaroo". This seemingly careless substitution of ingredients while erroneously maintaining it's name precipitated the martini to almost entirely loose its identity in modern parlance. "Martini"- once a reference to a fairly specific combination of ingredients- is now seemingly and shockingly used interchangeably with the word "cocktail", or to denote any mixed beverage served "up" (in a cocktail glass - the ones traditionally used in martinis).
In commemoration of this old and most iconic cocktail, (robbed of it's name, the poor thing) here are five distinct versions of the Martini in the order in which it historically appeared (recipes courtesy of Robert Hess, of DrinkBoy and the Chanticleer Society) :
Martini (circa. 1888)
1 1/2 ounce Old Tom gin
1 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth (note that old martini recipes used sweet white vermouth, something which is difficult to find nowadays)
2 dash simple syrup
2 dash Boker's bitters
1 dash orange curaçao
Garnish: Piece of lemon, squeezed over the top.
Stir with ice. Strain into a fancy cocktail glass.

Martini (circa. 1900)
2 ounce gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
Garnish: Lemon twist
Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Martini - dry (circa. 1900)
2 ounce gin
1 ounce dry vermouth
2 dash orange bitters
Garnish: Lemon twist.
Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Martini (classic)
1 1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
Garnish: Lemon twist
Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

 "Modern" Martini
2 1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
Garnish: Lemon twist, or a green olive
Stir with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

"This is a 5-1 ratio Martini. An "extra-dry" martini can take this to such an extreme as to have no vermouth at all. Which sort of missses the entire point of what a cocktail (much less a Martini) is all about."

And just for fun, the original James Bond cocktail, as it appeared in Ian Flemings original novel Casino Royale. This is a fairly close relative of the martini: it's main departure is it's use of Kina Lillet instead of Vermouth. the Kina variety of this fortified wine is nearly extinct and difficult to find, but I prepared this cocktail once substituting it for Lillet Blanc, and it came out as one of the loveliest cocktails I have ever tried. 

The Vesper
3 measures Gin (Bond specifies Gordon's, but Gordon's gin has reduced in quality significantly since Royale's time)
1 measure Vodka
1/2 measure Kina Lillet (substitute Lillet Blanc if necessary)
Shake over ice, serve with a "large, thin slice of lemon peel"


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February 2010

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