From the Reference Desk: The First Martini

The martini was first mentioned in O.H. Byron’s The Modern Bartender’s Guide, published in New York in 1884. A martini is a cocktail made of gin or vodka and vermouth, with a dash of bitters. The origin of the name is in dispute. Byron called the drink a “Martinez” and described it as a Manhattan (a whiskey cocktail sweetened with vermouth) but made with gin rather than whiskey. It was first called a “Martini” in Henry Johnson’s 1888 book How to Mix Drinks in the Present Style. The martini did not become “dry” until after World War I, when it became the fashion to use unsweetened French vermouth instead of the sweet Italian variety.

— From Joseph Nathan Kane’s Famous First Facts.

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