You Say Martini, We Say Martinez!


Renowned spirits expert and master mixologist, Dale DeGroff, is available for interviews to uncover the true history of the “King of Cocktails” and introduce modern adaptations on the classic martini


Dale Degroff (Photo By Nancy Newberry)
Dale Degroff (Photo By Nancy Newberry)

Thinking of martinis conjures images from James Bond to Mad Men, but as National Martini Day approaches on June 19th, we consulted with internationally renowned author, spirits historian and master mixologist, Dale DeGroff to “stir up” the storied and often misunderstood history of the “king of cocktails.” DeGroff partnered with national bar and restaurant chain, Bar Louie, this year to bring authentic martini history to life through a limited time historic martini menu, available in all the eclectic urban eatery’s locations through June.

“National Martini Day celebrates the clear gin-based cocktail icons that have permeated culture over the last 130 years,” said DeGroff. “But most people have no idea about the trends and variations leading to the martinis recognized in modern times.”

Degroff helped walk us through the history of the martini, beginning in the 1800s when cocktails called martinis looked nothing like what we’d recognize today. They were five-ingredient sweet drinks with curacao and maraschino. Then, in 1884, O.H. Byron’s Modern Bartender’s Guide footnoted a variation of the Manhattan known as The Martinez that paired equal parts gin and vermouth, setting the cornerstone for martini history.

In 1911, the head barman at New York City’s Knickerbocker hotel, Martini Di Arma Di Taggia, swapped dry vermouth instead of sweet vermouth, leading to a clear drink that today’s fans might recognize, but with drastically different spirits proportions and no olives in sight.

“Prohibition’s poor gin quality took the martini off the map, but after the Second World War, the cocktail returned to notoriety,” said DeGroff. Cultural influences like The Thin Man movies and its lead characters, Nick and Nora Charles, as well as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt—and of course, James Bond, became the martini’s ad hoc spokespeople.

DeGroff told us that as Americans got “wetter,” the martini got “dryer,” with drinks that had been made of half vermouth evolving gradually toward what is now a more common ratio of one part vermouth to 11 parts gin. And, the rising popularity of vodka in the United States has made today’s “vodkatini” fans often unaware that to stalwarts of authenticity, the inclusion of vodka means it isn’t a martini at all.

Now that you’re armed with the true history of the martini, head out to celebrate. There are official celebrations of National Martini Day happening all month long. Perhaps you’ll find that a truly historic martini is right up your alley.


For more information or to book an interview please contact

Clarissa Driban at 215-939-7656 or

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