When Barbara Davies (protagonist of Between Land and Sea and The Coming of Arabella) decided to spend a month in Sedona, she hoped the breathtaking scenery would provide enough distractions from her problems. She was pleasantly surprised when the layers of discontent and disappointment started to melt away within hours of arriving at the home of psychic ex-mermaid Kendra Adams.
All it took was one watermelon martini, albeit a martini filled with magic ingredients that helped Barbara drift away from everyone and everything that had contributed to her meltdown in Ontario. At least, that’s what Barbara believed when she tasted the refreshing drink.
Kendra’s eyes twinkled as she said, “The only magic that exists is the magic you create for yourself.” But that didn’t stop Kendra from offering pitchers of martinis to visiting ex-mermaids on retreats.
Before introducing the martinis in The Coming of Arabella and The Making of a Mermaid Psychic (work in progress), I decided to research the history of this classic cocktail.
Here are ten interesting martini facts:
1. The martini was created sometime between the years 1862 and 1876. According to one account, the martini is a descendant of the Martinez, a sweeter version made with gin, sweet vermouth, and cherry juice, invented by famous bartender Jerry Thomas of the Occidental Hotel.
2. An early recipe for a martini appeared in The World’s Drinks and How to Mix Them (1907) written by William Boothby: “Into a mixing glass, place some cracked ice, two dashes of Orange bitters, half a jigger of dry French vermouth, and half a jigger of dry English gin. Stir well until thoroughly chilled, strain into a stem cocktail glass, squeeze a bit of lemon peel over the top and serve with an olive.”
3. The martini first gained popularity during the Prohibition era. Drinkable “bathtub gin” was easy to produce and made martinis more readily available. The wide mouth of the martini glass made it easy to dump the contents during a raid.
4. The stem on a martini glass was designed to keep the warmth of your hands from affecting the temperature of the drink.
5. The concept of “bruising the gin” has been debated by many martini aficionados. Is a shaken martini better than a stirred martini? Many believe that shaking breaks up the ice and adds more water, weakening the drink, while others claim the shaken martini has a more rounded taste.
6. W. Somerset Maugham declared that “martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other.”
7. James Bond orders his martinis “shaken, not stirred.” In Casino Royale, Ian Fleming provides the following recipe: “Three measures of gin, one measure of Vodka (Russian or Polish), and half a measure of Kina Lillet aperitif, shaken until ice-cold and with a large, thin slice of lemon peel for garnish.”
8. The martini dipped in popularity during the 1970s but has shown resurgence in the past fifteen years. The television series Mad Men, based in the 1950s, has contributed to the martini’s resurrection.
9. At the Algonquin Hotel in New York City, you can order a $10,000 martini. Instead of an olive, the garnish is a diamond.
10. Here are some famous martini quotes:
“Martinis are the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet.”
H. L. Mencken
“A man must defend his home, his wife, his children, and his martini.”
“I never go jogging, it makes me spill my martini.”
“Happiness is…finding two olives in your martini when you’re hungry.”
“I like to have a martini, two at the very most –After three I’m under the table, After four, I’m under my host.”
“If it wasn’t for the olives in his martinis he’d starve to death.”