Hiroko Tanaka, a Japanese actress living in New York City, proves that a Martini should be as simple and graceful as a flick of the wrist and a squeeze of a lemon peel. In this version, Tanaka mixes a ratio of two to one, gin to vermouth, and skips the bitters in favor of a simple lemon peel for garnish and aroma.
With all of the sleuthing done by cocktail historians in recent years, no one seems to have turned up a solid story for the birth of the Martini. Certain facts, however, can be established: It postdated the Manhattan, and likely evolved from a mix of sweet vermouth and sweet gin as drier versions of those alcohols became popular at the turn of the 20th century. The first printed versions of the Martini show a recipe similar to the one below. Over time, the bitters fell out of fashion, as did vermouth, and the ratio between the two liquors tilted strongly to gin.
The cocktail revival has righted some of these wrong turns, but there now exists a world of permutations having to do with the ratio of vermouth to gin, garnishing with an olive or a twist, and even, yes, shaken or stirred (answer: your choice, your choice, stirred). Still, some points of agreement: A Martini must be made with gin—not vodka—and it must be mixed with vermouth, otherwise one is simply drinking chilled straight liquor. And finally, this caveat: While Martinis may be served in cocktail glasses, not everything served in a cocktail glass may be called a Martini.
In other installations of “People Making Drinks” a professional bodybuilder shakes his way to a Mexican Firing Squad and a drag queen spanks mint into a Mint Julep. Next week, prepare to see an NYC firefighter flame an orange peel.