Famous martini drinkers include Kingsley Amis, Sherwood Anderson, Robert Benchley, Humphrey Bogart, Luis Buñuel, George Burns, James Carville, Sir Winston Churchill, Noel Coward, W.C. Fields, M.F.K. Fisher, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Ian Flemming, Gerald Ford, Jackie Gleason, Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock, William Holden, Herbert Hoover, Jack London, Dean Martin, H.L. Mencken, Richard Nixon, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, James Thurber, Mae West, and E.B. White.
Here we present some notes on a few of them.
So famous is Ernst Hemingway’s passion for a good drink that Philip Greene wrote a book about it , which explores Papa’s drinking habits and the drinks that appear into his books. Hemingway loved martinis and created his own version called “The Montgomery”, named after Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, the British general who would not go into battle unless he outnumbered his opposition by 15 to 1, the ratio of gin to vermouth that Hemingway used in his martinis. Hemingway preferred his cocktails icy-cold and reportedly had a clever hack for making “the coldest martini in the world.” His trick? Freezing water in tennis ball tubes to make massive ice cylinders. He also froze the glasses and the Spanish cocktail onions he used as garnishes.
Luis Buñuel once stated he never had the ‘bad luck’ to miss his daily cocktail: ‘Where certain things are concerned, I plan ahead’. In his autobiography, he confessed that martinis played a “primordial” role in his life. On the ratio of gin to vermouth he remarked that “connoisseurs who like their martinis very dry suggest simply allowing a ray of sunlight to shine through a bottle of Noilly Prat before it hits the bottle of gin”. Here goes his personal martini recipe: “The day before your guests arrive, put all the ingredients – glasses, gin, and shaker – in the refrigerator. Use a thermometer to make sure the ice is about twenty degrees below zero. Don’t take anything out until your friends arrive; then pour a few drops of Noilly Prat and half a demitasse spoon of Angostura bitters over the ice. Stir it, then pour it out, keeping only the ice, which retains a faint taste of both. Then pour straight gin over the ice, stir it again, and serve“.
W. Somerset Maugham, the famous British novelist, was a huge fan of Noilly Prat French vermouth for his martinis, and once said: “You can make a sidecar, a gimlet, a white lady, or a gin and bitters, but you cannot make a dry martini.” He also believed that “martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd US president, reportedly loved martinis so much that he traveled with his own martini kit. His favorite was the Dirty Martini: two parts gin, one part vermouth, olive brine, a lemon twist and an olive.
Clark Gable also liked his martinis very dry. In order to make them really dry, James Gannon, the newspaperman Clark Gable played in Teacher’s Pet, used to hold a bottle of vermouth upside down to moisten the cork and then run the damp cork around the lip of the martini glass.
Alfred Hitchcock, the Hollywood film director and producer, also liked his martinis very dry, with just “one short glance at a bottle of vermouth”.
Sir Winston Churchill, the former UK Prime Minister, Churchill favored a very dry martini. As Churchill famously said, the only way to make a martini was with ice-cold gin and a bow in the direction of France.
Humphrey Bogart, another famous martini drinker, famously said, just before passing away: “I never should have switched from scotch to martinis”.