Why Do We Put Olives in Martinis?

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You’d never drink a martini without an olive
Martini

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Is it purely for the taste?

Along with many other alcoholic drinks, the history of the martini is a little blurry (for obvious reasons). From what we could gather, it all leads back to a miner in California that struck gold in the 1800’s.

Apparently, after his findings, he barged into a bar and insisted on a “special” drink to celebrate his newly found fortune. After that, the bartender quickly threw together what he had on hand: vermouth and gin. He named the drink “Martinez” on the spot, because that’s the town in which the bar was located.

Robert Hess, secretary of the Museum of the American Cocktail in New York, claims this story is a myth. He believes the cocktail is simply named after Martini & Rossi vermouth. Regardless of where it came from, here’s the real question: What’s the deal with the olives?

According to NPR, many are quick to claim they’re responsible for the olive garnish in a martini. However, their most likely lead came from a doctor at the Syrian Red Cresent, Dr. Ammar Martini.

Martini claimed that after the French left Syria, his grandfather went to Paris and managed a bar and café to make a living. He says his contribution to the famous drink was to put an olive in the glass. He did so because the Idlib province in Syria — where he was from — was best known for its undeniably fresh and delicious olives. Once this trend caught fire, the drink adopted the name martini instead of Martinez.

Have your own theory as to why we put olives in martinis? Let us know!

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