Tequila Distillery Visit: Sauza
Spicy Mary

The Martini Does Not Exist

The word 'Martini' has very little meaning.

Two versions of the cocktail may have completely different ingredients and be served in different formats: A bone-dry-and-dirty Grey Goose Martini on the rocks with extra olives has nothing in common with a Fifty-Fifty gin Martini with orange bitters and a twist. They're not even close to the same drink - in ingredients, in format, or in purpose.


More than that, the Martini no longer exists even as a drink concept. It means different things to different people: strength, dryness, elegance, simplicity, an aperitif, glassware, crispness, an era in time, an intellectual challenge, etc.. Some of its concepts are mutually exclusive.

This conundrum surfaced when in New Zealand last year for the 42Below Vodka Cocktail World Cup, in which they had a Modern Martini challenge. The problem was that nobody agreed on what the Martini was, so everyone updated it in a different way.  Most of those ways differed from the judges' concept of the drink.

The Martini is as amorphous a concept as morality.

In this Sunday's Los Angeles Times Magazine, I wrote a story about how the Martini Does Not Exist, except in the mind of the individual.

I'm pretty happy with how it came out. After going through the issues involved with the concept of the drink (and revealing how that cocktail contest turned out), the story lists the Martini recipe as a moving target throughout the years.

Please give it a read.