The Martini’s history is as fascinating as one would expect, with historical bits and pieces referenced as far back as the 19th century.
Although the history of this classic cocktail is often the subject of great speculation and debate, most believe the Martini originated in the United States, with many thinking the name was likely a derivative of a popular vermouth brand – Martini and Rossi – used in crafting this potent potable. Still, others believe the Martinez is the precursor cocktail that was served in San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel in the 1860s.
The current versions of this cocktail – like the easy espresso martini recipe have met the challenge of finding a delicious alternative to the traditional recipe, although there have been some interesting recipe twists in the Martini’s history.
The martini cocktail began to appear in recipe books dedicated to crafting cocktails – with, at that time, recipes and the proportion of ingredients varying by book/bartender. The earliest version of the Martini included equal portions of dry and sweet vermouth, gin, and a dash of orange bitters.
The recipe evolved over time. Eventually, the sweet vermouth was replaced by dry vermouth, and the amount of gin used to create the Martini increased. Beginning in 1920 and lasting more than a decade during Prohibition (1920-1933 in the United States), the Martini grew in popularity in the speakeasy era as a favorite of those who frequented places that served what was then illicit alcohol.
The bathtub gin made during this time was of poor quality, which ultimately evolved to the creation of the Dry Martini – as martini lovers at that time began to use vermouth to mask the taste of bathtub gin – with the vermouth mainly used to flavor chilled gin. Some even order extra-dry, with even less vermouth.
The James Bond – Martini Connection
The Martini, as a cocktail of distinction and elegance, gained further popularity when the Martini became the favorite drink of Ian Fleming’s fictional character James Bond. In the film adaptations of Fleming’s British Spy, Bond cemented this drink’s cultural status when he ordered his martinis – Shaken, Not Stirred.
Evolution & Variations of the Martini
Like most foods and cocktails, the Martini has evolved since its inception – with changes and variations that reflect current preferences and tastes. In addition to the popularized vodka martini, these are the other adaptations–
- Substituting a lemon twist or olive for the bitters.
- Adding olive brine to make a Dirty Martini
- Adding espresso & coffee liqueur creates an easy espresso martini recipe.
A Modern Twist on an Easy Espresso Martini Recipe
Even variations have variations. The following offers an updated version of the espresso martini, adding the deep, rich, and sweet flavor note of maple syrup.
- 1 1/2 Ounces Vodka
- 1 Ounce Coffee Liqueur
- 1 Ounce Freshly Brewed Espresso-Chilled
Pro-tip – If you do not have access to fresh espresso, use strong brewed coffee. Make sure it is CHILLED before adding the coffee to the shaker.
- 1/2 Ounce Maple Syrup-Adjust for Taste
- Ice Cubes
How to Make the Modern Twist on the Espresso Martini
- Fill the cocktail shaker with ice.
- Add the vodka, coffee liqueur, espresso/coffee, and maple syrup.
- Shake the contents vigorously for approximately 20 seconds, so mix/chill all ingredients.
- Use a strainer to pour the espresso martini into a martini glass.
- Add a dusting of cocoa powder or a few coffee beans.
Feel free to get a bit daring and try the ingredients you prefer. For example, a dash of cinnamon might be a delicious twist to the updated version.