1860 to 1920 – California: The Birthplace of the First Cocktails?
The cocktail’s fragmented history begins in the nineteenth century. One of the first of the modern cocktails to be named and recognised is the Martini. It can be traced back to an 1862 recipe for the Martinez. This American recipe consisted of four parts sweet red vermouth to one part gin, garnished with a cherry. "Professor" Jerry Thomas tended the bar of the old Occidental Hotel in San Francisco and reputedly made the drink for a gold miner on his way to the town of Martinez, which lies forty miles to the east. The recipe for the Martinez in Thomas’ 1887 bartender's guide called for Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, a dash of maraschino and bitters, as well as a slice of lemon and two dashes of gum syrup.
A modern day Dry Martini consists of gin and dry white vermouth to taste, garnished with an olive. Obviously, gin has changed a lot since then, when it would have been relatively sweet compared to modern gins. Some even claim the Martini was named after the Martini-Henry rifle used by the British army around 1870, as both the rifle and the drink had a strong kick!
What we do know is that by 1900 in the USA, the Martini had become known nationwide and had spread to the other side of the Atlantic. This is said by some to be the beginning of the golden age of cocktails. During this time a basic list of cocktails emerged and steadily became more and more popular.