The Negroni, and its cousin the Aperol Spritz, is the “it” cocktail right now. But just what is it and where did it come from?
It all starts with the creation of Campari in Italy in 1860. The inventor, a cafe owner in Novara, Italy, infused fruit and a secret spice blend into alcohol to create this now-famous liquor. The drink became popular, with most people adding sweet vermouth to lessen the bitterness of the original drink.
Americans coming to fashionable Milan in the early 20th century also took to the drink but preferred their aperitifs with soda water. The resulting concoction became known as an Americano. Cue Count Camillo Negroni.
In 1920 Negroni was at his favorite Florentine cafe when he asked the bartender to make his Americano stronger. The bartender switched out the soda for gin and the result was what we know as the classic Negroni.
Like that of many cocktails, there are a number of origin stories for the martini. While it may impossible to confirm the veracity of the following stories, they are entertaining nonetheless, and we can’t thank whoever invented the cocktail enough. Without the martini, we wouldn’t have the Tequila Martini!
One story traces the martini’s origins to Martini di Arma di Taggia, a bartender at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City prior to World War I. His cocktail blended London dry gin, Noilly Prat Vermouth and orange bitters – similar to the modern-day Martini. Another story places the origin in 1863, with Martini & Rossi, an Italian sweet vermouth, that customers would have ordered alongside gin. A “gin and martini” may have evolved into the martini, a likely theory given the simplicity of cocktail names during the 19th century.
The city of Martinez, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, claims the predecessor of the Martini was created by a local bartender named Julio Richelieu when a miner, who’d recently struck it rich during the California Gold Rush, asked for a glass of champagne. Without any in town, Julio Richelieu whipped up a “Martinez Special”, a drink the miner recalled the next day having exceeded his expectations. When he tried to order it in San Francisco, the bartender – obviously never having prepared a “Martinez Special” before – created one with one-part dry wine and three parts gin. Yet another claims the drink was named after the strong recoil of the Martini & Henry rifle, in use by the British Army between 1870 and 1890. Wherever and whenever the martini was truly first created, it took years before the ratio of dry vermouth to gin reached a more modern level. A traditional martini is made with gin and dry vermouth at a 1:1 ratio and served cold with a green olive or lemon garnish. The level of gin has increased with regularity over the years, with personal taste and subjectivity requesting ratios of 3 or 5:1, gin to vermouth.
While there isn’t a clear story on how Tequila came to replace gin as the standout spirit of the traditional martini, there’s no doubt that it is a variation on the classic cocktail worth a taste. The Tequila Martini substitutes gin with Blanco Tequila, keeps the dry vermouth, and adds a lime garnish. You’ll find the natural citrus and herbal flavors of our never-aged organic Blanco Tequila are well-balanced by the dry vermouth. For a hot summer day, this cool cocktail will keep you feeling refreshed (and ready for a fiesta).