When did the meaning of "martini" change

Over at a friend’s awhile back and recall him saying he was big into “martinis.” Silly me I assumed he meant gin and vermouth, which surprised me as I’ve never known him to drink gin in any way, let alone martinis.

And he doesn’t. He was mixing vodka and I don’t even recall what. But apparently now it’s just a cool drink name people latched onto and seems to mean basically all kinds of things, not just gin+whatever, but (even more commonly it seems), vodka+whatever. ?? When did this memo come out, I missed it…

Like 15 years ago.

There’s a school of thought that any cocktail served in a martini glass is a martini.

Thx for reminding me how unhip I am. sigh

To me a martini is gin, vermouth with an optional olive.

However, I begrudgingly accept that “martini” in the common vernacular is a drink served in a glass of similar shape to the one my martini is served in. It isn’t so much what the drink is - it’s the shape of the serving vessel.

…and when you go to that school, it’s a short bus that comes and pickes you up.

Vodka instead of gin started in the 1960s with James Bond drinking it in the movies (book Bond drank something different). The cosmopolitan started the cocktail-in-martini-glass thing in the 1980s. Calling cocktails served in martini glasses “suchandsuch martini” took off in the 1990s.

Where have you been?

James Bond is responsible for changing martini from a gin drink to a vodka drink. So, that’s been going on since the 1960s.

Some time in the 1990s, anything in a martini glass became a “martini.”

So what do they call what used to be a martini?

I think you’d have to specify, something like “a traditional style gin-and-vermouth martini.” And you also have to tell them not to shake it.

Isn’t a martini glass just another name for a cocktail glass?

But, yeah, it irritates me, too. “Martini” has just become another word for “cocktail,” and the 15 year time frame speculated sounds about right to me.

What it was always called, a Gin and Vermouth Martini with an olive. The Gin and Vermouth Martini has been considered the standard for many decades, but it that coalesced over time from other variations, and variations such as the Vodka Martini have been around the whole time.

Because martinis were often advantageously priced for the amount of alcohol used, it was once the practice to order any drink as a Martini. For instance for a glass of straight vodka you could order a Vodka Martini, hold the vermouth, no garnish and get a glass of vodka for less than ordering it as Vodka Rocks. Bars don’t fall for that anymore, so there’s another thing that used to be better in the old days.

If The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic (1995) is to be believed then the vodka martini is even older than that. It says a recipe for a “Vodkatini” appeared in a 1951 book, and that while at that time it was considered rather shocking to make a martini with vodka “Today it is purely a matter of taste.”

Yeah, sorry. I meant the popularity of vodka martinis, as well as the beginning of the trend where today if you order a “martini,” you’re likely to get vodka, not gin.

A martini. If you go into a bar and say “give me a martini” they might ask if you want gin or vodka, but you’ll get one of those plus vermouth and some garnish, almost certainly an olive.

You might see a drink menu with a martini section that would have a list with something like: [ul]
[li]Applitini[/li][li]Chocolate Martini[/li][li]Whatevitini[/li][/ul]

Then, of course, you’d have to order by those names. I imagine it’s like those in the south calling all soda coke.

I usually order a “dry gin martini” which seems to work. Except the one time in a noisy bar when the waitress apparently heard “chocolate martini” which is really not the same thing…

I’m really surprised by this. I’ve been to bars on both the east coast and west coast ordering martinis and never been given anything but a gin martini. Granted, I have not ordered one for the last 5 years or so, so maybe things really changed then. But, I figured the default martini was one with gin and vermouth, and if you wanted vodka in there you asked for a vodka martini. I don’t think I would like a vodka martini, so the next time I am at a bar and order a martini I will make sure to specify vermouth’s counterpart.
Anyway. I only came in here because, I just came across this well written FAQ about martinis the other day:

I don’t know, but when asked for one and you ask what they want in it half the time they don’t seem to know what they’re ordering and behave as if you’re an idiot for asking. I was bar tending in a tourist location so you couldn’t guess. Dirty martini drinkers always tell you exactly what they want.

This has happened before. A cocktail was originally a specific kind of drink - a mixture of alcohol, water, sugar, and bitters. But cocktail became a more generic term for any mixed drink containing alcohol.

People who wanted the original mix of alcohol, water, sugar, and bitters would ask for an old-fashioned cocktail. And this drink is now known as an Old Fashioned.

Nah, you can put something else in besides the olive. Dirty is with olive juice and olive(s). With a twist adds some peel from some type of citrus. You can also add cocktail onions, which is usually called a Gibson.

Also, a lot of the traditional martini snobs drink basically straight gin and try to pretend it’s a martini if they add homeopathic levels of vermouth, so they’re equally annoying.

I prefer gin, and won’t scream at someone for getting vodka, maybe just add snarky remarks about rubbing alcohol :). But the other -tini drinks are not. Any decent bartender will ask which booze you want, and not assume appletini or something.