It is the second most monumental American invention, preceded only by jazz, and we celebrate it every year on June 19.
It is the martini.
And this year, thanks to poetic fate, National Martini Day also falls on Father’s Day.
Traditionally made with gin and vermouth, this cocktail is normally garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. It grew from humble beginnings, maturing in the Roaring Twenties, to become one of the world’s best known alcoholic beverages.
Like many of the great cocktails, its true origins are muddled in legend.
According to mixology lore, in the waning years of the California Gold Rush, a miner who struck it rich was returning home to Martinez. By the time he reached San Francisco, he wanted to relax and celebrate his good fortune.
He stopped at the Occidental Hotel, wanting a glass of champagne, but they were all out. When the miner requested something special, bartender Jerry Thomas put together a drink for him in exchange for a gold nugget. Thomas named the drink after the miner’s destination, and it later fully evolved into the martini.
Over the last twenty years, flavored cocktails began using the word “martini” or the suffix “tini” in their names. These are named after the martini cocktail glass, designed by Spanish artist Felix, and made with vodka in place of gin, generally sharing little else in common with the original drink.
This National Martini Day, whether you’re a beleaguered father, or the type of person who pays for their drinks with rocks, celebrate with a nice Colorado craft gin like Vapor, Spring 44, Anvil, something from the Leopold Brothers, or the new Breckenridge Distillery Gin.
Also, use a high quality vermouth. “Bob’s” generic brand won’t do. Try Noilly Prat or Dolin, and treat yourself to a real drinking experience.
By the way, that concoction that manly super spy James Bond orders shaken not stirred? It’s not technically a real martini. A martini made with vodka is actually classified as a “kangaroo”.