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Martini is an Italian vermouth, named after the Martini & Rossi distillery[?]. It is produced in four versions (dry, white, red and pink). Martini & Rossi also produces the famous Chinamartini.

See also: List of Italian companies.

In ancient Latvia, Martini was the name of a festival, celebrated on November 10, marking the end of the fall and the beginning of winter. The festival marks the transfer from Usins to Martins, two deities of horses. Usins is invoked during the summer, while Martins is a winter god. The festival marked the end of the preparations for winter, such as salting meat and fish, storing the harvest and making preserves. Martini also marked the beginning of masquerading and sledding, among other wintry activities.

The martini is a popular cocktail. A traditional martini is made with about two ounces of gin and a dash of dry vermouth served "straight up" (without ice), though other recipes may be used. The ingredients are stirred with crushed ice and then strained into a cocktail glass[?], and usually garnished with an olive, or sometimes with lemon rind (a twist), and less often with a cocktail onion.

The benefit of the olive is to add salt, as bar olives are usually preserved in brine. A martini made with salt tastes quite different from one without.

A "dry" martini is one made with less vermouth; a "very dry" Martini is basically a cold glass of gin (though the ice will contribute some water to the final drink as well). A standard witticism is to observe that "there was vermouth in the house once."

Western culture has created almost a mythology around the martini: the James Bond character from the Ian Fleming novels, for example, is famous for ordering his "shaken, not stirred", and other devotees of the drink have similar irrational preferences for the technique of making the drink (In the novel Casino Royale, Bond's recipe is specified in more detail as made with three measures of gin, one measure of vodka, and half a measure of vermouth, shaken until chilled, and with lemon peel for garnish. By the second Bond novel, Live and Let Die, Bond was drinking vodka martinis, a trend that continued when 007 moved to the silver screen in 1962).

The martini is used as a symbol for cocktails and nightlife[?] in general; American bars often have a picture of a conical martini glass with an olive on their signs.

Many variations exist on the standard martini described above:

  • A Vodka Martini (Vodkatini) is made the same way but with vodka instead of gin, and more often uses lemon rind as the garnish. This is the most common variation, and in fact is more popular than the original in some locations.
  • A Dirty Martini has some of the brine from the olive jar added.
  • A Naked Martini is made without ice, but with the ingredients and glass chilled.
  • A Sweet Martini is made with sweet red vermouth, and may be garnished with a maraschino[?] cherry instead of an olive.
  • A Gibson is a standard dry martini that is garnished with a cocktail onion instead of an olive.

Sometimes the term "Martini" is used to refer to other mostly-hard-liquor cocktails such as Manhattans, Cosmopolitans[?], and ad-hoc or local conconctions whose only commonality with the drink is the cocktail glass in which they are served.

See also the Wikipedia Cocktail Guide.

See also retro martini glasses[?].

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