« Flex Automation Links | Main | Ignite Boston »


I've just finished "Martini, Straight Up" revised edition by Lowell Edmunds. It is a short and at times metaphysical history and look at the Martini. In this case Martini primarily means a drink made of gin and vermouth served in the iconic glass. The author prefers his Martini cold, 4:1 to 8:1, shaken, straight up, with the oil from a twist of lemon. I find it strange that given his tastes the cover picture includes the lemon rind floating in the drink instead of discarded as directed [xviii].

The author explores seven contrasting areas of the Martini including its origin (American vs. European), location (urban vs. rural), status (high vs. low), gender (male vs. female), message (optimistic vs. pessimistic), audience (adults vs. children), and period (past vs. present). These areas are examined through the observations of the author and references to numerous interviews, articles, books, movies, television, and advertising. For such a narrow topic the material when looking at the history of the Martini is good. Where the author strays into philosophical discussions of the meaning of the Martini the book lacks polish.

The changing character of the Martini I found to be the most engaging material. Gin to vodka, varying amount of vermouth, and to now almost anything being served in a Martini glass being some kind of -tini. It is this change that the author explores through a series of ambiguity chapters about the Martini: civilized vs. uncivilized, uniting vs. separating, classic vs. individual, and sensitive vs. tough.

Overall the book makes a convincing case that the Martini is a very potent symbol in and of America. As the author notes the coverage of drinks from a anthropological stand point is dwarfed by research and books on food and the negative impacts of alcoholic consumption. Little books like this help shed some light on socially harmless drinking people enjoy on a regular basis [103].

Tags: books gin martini