The story of where the martini originated is a fuzzy one (as are many stories involving alcohol). Some claim the American classic was created by a famed bartender in New York at the turn of the 20th century. Others insist that the cocktail name was inspired by its early ingredients: Martini & Rossi vermouth, shipped from Italy to American bars in the early 1900s. But the most compelling tale is that of a man in San Francisco who set off to find his fortune in the Gold Rush, only to strike gold sitting at the bar waiting for his ferry. The bartender made him a drink and named it after his destination: Martinez. All we know for sure is that one day a man walked into a bar. The rest is history. — Allison Montroy
Photos by MICHAEL COONS
Restaurants around the region share
their favorite martini recipes
The Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village named this martini Strawberry Fields in honor of the hundreds of acres of strawberries planted in Ventura County and Malibu.
2 oz. Stolichnaya Elit vodka
2 oz. fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
½ oz. house-made strawberry cordial
½ oz. Morris Kitchen rhubarb syrup
½ oz. Shrub & Co. grapefruit shrub
4 dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6
Juice of ¼ blood orange
Place all ingredients in a pint glass, top with ice, shake and strain, using a julep strainer, into a coupe or martini glass.
House-Made Strawberry Cordial
1 lb. ripe strawberries, hulled and diced
¼ cup organic coconut palm sugar
¼ cup water
¼ tsp. vanilla bean paste
Grated zest of ½ lemon
Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and strain to remove particles from liquid. Refrigerate until needed, up to five days.
2 oz. Ventura Spirits Wilder gin
¾ oz. honey syrup
¾ oz. Meyer lemon juice
Combine ingredients in a shaker. Shake well and pour over ice. Serve in a salt-rimmed martini glass.
½ cup honey
½ cup purified water
In a small saucepan, heat honey. Add water and bring mixture to a boil. Simmer until honey is dissolved. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Mastro’s Steakhouse in Thousand Oaks shared a dessert martini that blends fresh lime with the creaminess of whipped cream for a sweetly sophisticated result. Credit to Robbi Jo Oliver, Mastro’s director of wine & spirits/training.
2 oz. American Star Caviar Lime vodka
2½ oz. Licor 43
Splash sweet and sour
Splash pineapple juice
Splash whipped cream
2 Tbsp. graham cracker crumbs
1 lime wedge
Fill shaker with ice. Add first 5 ingredients. Shake vigorously and pour into a martini glass rimmed with graham cracker crumbs. Squeeze lime wedge and drop into drink.
Padri Restaurant & Martini Bar in Agoura Hills created this martini, inspired by the warm Italian sun. Credit to bartenders Koto Silikula and Roberto Merida.
2½ oz. Bombay Sapphire gin
1½ oz. fresh in-house
4 fresh sage leaves
2 lime wedges
½ sliced pineapple wheel
In a shaker, muddle 3 sage leaves and pineapple together. Squeeze in lime juice. Add ice to the shaker. Pour in gin and pineapple syrup.
Give it a great shake and strain into a martini glass, straight up or on the rocks.
Garnish with a slice of pineapple and remaining leaf of sage.
* Can substitute Chipotle Pineapple Premium Gourmet Syrup from Le Sirop de Monin.
The Grill on the Alley in Westlake Village offers a sophisticated, spirits-driven, martini-style cocktail served in an old-fashioned glass to keep the effervescence of the cocktail concentrated in the glass. The drink is named after the French Quarter in New Orleans.
1 oz. rye bourbon
1 oz. Hennessy VS cognac
¼ oz. Benedictine liqueur
¼ oz. Carpano Antica
Spritz of absinthe
Combine ingredients. Stir and serve in a frosted glass with lemon rind.