I hope you all had a Happy Christmas and will have a Happy New Year. I wrote about New Year’s cocktails in 2009, and I’m just not feeling inspired for ringing in 2012. The cocktails are still amazing and unusual, so I strongly recommend you look at the post for a Champagne cocktail suggestion for New Years. Both drinks are really easy and quick.
I’m writing this blog post in advance so I will be in Kansas traversing the eastern third of the state. I’ve realized that 2011 was a good year for me. I was out-of-town for about 9 weeks. I had a great time. I traversed the countryside and got into a really good law school. This year, I will be looking back at the great year I was fortunate enough to have. So, thank you who helped make this year great. At the time of writing, my blog is over 5,000 hits, which is crazy, because I hit just over 1,000 hits in May. It is certainly not the insanity of the millions of viral hits, but those hits are important. I have had a number of you tell me that I’m a great writer and you like reading the blog. I hope you have had as much fun reading this and encouraging me, as I have had writing it. I like and need this creative outlet into my brain.
This year, I’m feeling simple, which is why I want to keep exploring the martini. A martini has few ingredients but somehow exists in infinite permutations. To quote H.L. Mencken, “The martini: the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.” It’s a beautiful drink.
Evolution, Part 4: From Gin to Vodka
You can’t write about the martini, without writing about the evolution from gin to vodka. There are several theories of when the vodka martini first appeared in print. The first theory is that the vodka martini recipe appeared in a 1939 advertisement for “Vodka Kiprisky.” This theory is perpetuated by Ted Haigh, in his book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. He is also the curator for the Museum of the American cocktail. However, in Straight up or on The rock: The story of the American Cocktail by William Grimes, he states that the vodka martini was originally put in print in 1934 in Esquire in their article “Top 10 Best Cocktails of 1934.” I cannot find a copy of that ad, but I emailed the Museum of the American Cocktail, and they sent me a copy of the recipe as printed in 1934. They also have a great blog, which I highly recommend.
In 1934, the year after Prohibition, the drink was originally called the vodka cocktail. From the recipe, though, this obviously evolves from the martini, that not including it would be doing you a disservice. It is one of the few times I will include a drink not called the martini, but you’ll see why.
So, on to the first time that I have found that the vodka martini ever appeared in print.
The Vodka Cocktail
3 parts Vodka
1/2 part Italian (or dry) vermouth
1/2 part French (or sweet) vermouth)
Stir over ice. Strain into a martini glass.
It’s interesting because we see vodka merging with the tastes of pre and post-Prohibition era gin martinis. In Part 2, the drink was half gin and half vermouth, but either kind of vermouth could be used. Here we see an example of a perfect martini where the types of vermouth are in equal proportions. The drink is also clearly influenced by the post-Prohibition martini, written about in Part 3, martinis moved away from the half gin, half vermouth from the early days.
This drink is a 3 to 1, so think is totally my speed, but as we all know this drink was quickly abandoned. I recommend it to the vermouth lovers out there, but there are so few of us left.
This martini necessitates a proper bottle of vodka. My personal favorite is Ketel One, so prices will be based on that vodka.
Vodka: $25 per 750 mL bottle
Dry Vermouth: $8 per 750 mL bottle
Sweet Vermouth: $8 per 750 mL bottle
Total cost: $41.
As always, happy and safe drinking.