Will you bring me five more martinis, Leo? And line them right up here.
It’s National Martini Day, so what do you say we raise our conical-shaped glasses and toast the cocktail that journalist H. L. Mencken called “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet.” Mencken may be giving short shrift to gizmos like the zipper, Jukebox and cotton gin, but he had a point. No matter how you drink yours – with gin or vodka, dirty or dry, up or on the rocks, with olives or a twist – a great martini is as sublime and intoxicating as any Elizabeth Barrett Browning love poem. Here, to inspire your Martini Day party plans, are the 10 most famous martini connoisseurs in history and their preferred potions.
W. Somerset Maugham. The British playwright and novelist was a huge fan of Noilly Prat French vermouth. Said Maugham, “You can make a side car, a gimlet, a white lady, or a gin and bitters, but you cannot make a dry martini.” He also believed that “martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other.”
Ernest Hemingway. Although best known for drinking daiquiris, Hemingway loved a good martini and created his own version called “The Montgomery.” He named it for Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, the British general who would not go into battle unless he outnumbered his opposition by 15 to one, the ratio of gin to vermouth that Hemingway used in his martinis.
James Bond. Shaken, not stirred. Need we say more, doll?
Julia Child. The American chef, author and television personality liked reverse martinis – a glass of Noilly Prat French vermouth on the rocks with a touch of gin.
Sir Winston Churchill. The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Churchill favored a very dry martini. As Churchill famously said, the only way to make a martini was with ice-cold gin and a bow in the direction of France.
Alfred Hitchcock. Like Churchill, the famed Hollywood film director and producer liked his martinis dry. “The Master of Suspense” said the closest he wanted to get to a bottle of vermouth was looking at it from across the room.
Anne Sexton. After her poetry classes at Boston University, Anne Sexton, who went on to become a Pulitzer Prize winning poet, would hit the bar at the local Ritz Carlton for very dry martinis. Said Anne, “Off we’d pile into the Ritz to drink three or four or two martinis.”
Clark Gable. James Gannon, the newspaperman Clark Gable played in Teacher’s Pet, would hold a bottle of vermouth upside down to moisten the cork and then run the damp cork around the lip of the martini glass.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Our 32nd President loved martinis so much that he traveled with his own martini kit. His recipe was on the dirty side – two parts gin, one part vermouth, olive brine, a lemon twist and an olive.
Lyndon B. Johnson. Our 36th President preferred the in-and-out martini – a glass filled with vermouth, then dumped out and filled with ice and gin.
Ready for another round? Take a look at this story.
Our Martini Day Story “Welcome Cocktail”
This story’s “welcome cocktail” was made using these classic ingredients:
Photo: Gloria Swanson
Quote: The Thin Man, 1934