This History of the Legendary Martini

The King of Cocktails has a long and winding story that's worth toasting.

Who created the Martini?
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Here’s a toast to the Martini. The history of the drink is not as straightforward. Ever since the 1930s, mixologists have been trying to figure out where the drink actually came from. Well, The Daily Beast may have finally have the answer.

In 1882, the first American drink to combine spirits and vermouth was mixed: the Manhattan. It was created at The Turf Club, an exclusive gambling club for the richest and sportiest men in New York City. Then, a year later, the first mention of gin mixed with vermouth is written about in the Cleveland Leader and Chicago Tribune. Back then, the gin was different. The classic gin that we know and love — called English Old Tom’s gin — was still a niche product in America in the early 1880s, and instead, there was a rich and malty Dutch style gin that was distilled in pot stills from equal parts barley malt, rye and corn and only very lightly flavored with juniper.

Then in 1884, the gin-and-vermouth combination got its own name, or actually, two of them, both found in New York City bartenders’ guides. It is unknown which name came first, but one was “Martinez Cocktail” and the other “Turf Club Cocktail.”

Finally, in 1886, the Martini’s true name was printed  in magazines around the nation. It became more popular in 1887 and 1888, as English Old Tom gin slowly started replacing the Holland gin. Mentions during this time credit Franklin Martine, a Civil War veteran who sold carriage trimmings and was involved in New York’s club life, as the creator. Over the next few years, the Martini, or Martine, developed regional styles. In 1896, New Yorkers turned towards dry drinks instead of sweet, and the Dry Martini is named.

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