Shaken or stirred? One of the more famous choices in modern history, I doubt there are many who don’t immediately picture James Bond. But did you know the original Martini was created in San Francisco, far from 007’s world, and was produced from gin, sweet vermouth and a few dashes of maraschino cherry liquid? It was more than thirty years before the Martini morphed into the splendor we know today.
History records its own versions of this savory infusion. It is said Winston Churchill made his by pouring gin into a glass and then merely bowing in the direction of France. Alfred Hitchcock made one with five parts gin and a quick glance at the bottle of vermouth. Ernest Hemingway had his own version he liked to call a "Montgomery", a martini mixed at a gin-vermouth ratio of 15:1 the odds at which, supposedly, Field Marshall Montgomery would want before entering into battle.
In the Martini’s shadow rests a bevy of libations. The Martini counterpart, the Manhattan, is actually a Big Apple invention created at the Manhattan Club in New York. It was designed for a banquet hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother, in honor of Governor Samuel J. Tilden. New Orleans’s official cocktail, the Sazerac, dates back to the 1830s, when local pharmacist Antoine Peychaud invented the perfect ‘tonic’ to cure everything. The mouth-watering Mojito actually sports two origins. One version claims it was crafted in Cuba in the late 1800s while the officially sanctioned theory says that the Mojito was the preferred beverage of the privateer, Sir Francis Drake, as early as the 1500s and that he introduced the drink to Cuba on treasure-hunting exploits through the Caribbean.
Beyond this abbreviated history of drink origins is a library of fun facts. By an act of Congress, bourbon is the official spirit of the United States, which then should not surprise you that the first U.S. Marine recruiting station was in a bar. President Lyndon B. Johnson was said to be such a fan of scotch and soda, the Secret Service would rush for a refill when LBJ stuck his empty glass out of his convertible window.
Other countries get in on the fun, as well. Prussia’s Frederick the Great tried to ban coffee, demanding that alcohol be consumed instead. Ancient Egyptians encouraged alcohol use by incorporating drinking terms into their children names. In Tibet, one tribe considers alcohol to be the only acceptable salary for teachers.
And let’s not forget our country! Did you know the "Star-Spangled Banner," was written to the tune of a drinking song? General Grant drank whiskey while leading his troops, a fact President Lincoln thought worthy of encouraging. Even Martha Washington enjoyed her daily consumption, known to last all afternoon.
Hollywood wants to put in their two cents also. Many actors began behind the bar, including Sandra Bullock, Bruce Willis, Chevy Chase and Tom Arnold. Some are even known to imbibe a bit too much. Liza Minnelli, James Brown, Anna Nicole Smith, Danny DeVito, Amy Winehouse and David Hasselhoff all have videos on the Internet that I’m sure they’d rather forget. Desi Arnaz's grandfather reportedly was one of the founders of the largest rum distillery in the world. All of this brings us back to alcohol being a part of our lives, our culture and our country. Do you have a fun fact we can add to our website? Think about it over a Margarita or a Long Island Iced Tea or add an onion instead of the olive and turn your Martini into a Gibson.