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Why is a Martini Glass Shaped the Way it is?

Classic Martini with Two Olives

Martini’s have become a staple drink of Vodka lovers everywhere. Originally made with gin, many individuals now choose vodka as their alcohol driver of this delicious beverage.

But why must they come in such a precarious glass? As a former server at a restaurant with a full bar, nothing was more tedious than delivering a couple Martinis to a table that felt like half a mile away. The liquid was just waiting to jump out at the slightest twist of the wrist. Do martini’s really need to be served in this type of stemware!?

Well, believe it or not, these fancy glasses do serve some purpose in the functionality department.

History of the Martini Glass

Well, the martini itself goes back to the late 1800’s. According to old Bay Area and San Francisco legends, the drink was created by one Jerry Thomas. He was local bartender in the area and was challenged to make a special drink by an out-of-towner on his way to Martinez ( a gold mining town). From there, it is said that the bartender used some gin, a dash of bitters, some maraschino liquor and poured it all into a wine glass filled with vermouth. This is one story anyways.

But we want to know about the glass itself right? Well, fast forward to the 1920’s. It is the years of prohibition. Gin was in high demand at the speakeasies and so Martini’s become a favorite of the people. Up until now, Martini’s made in cocktail glasses. It is fabled that glasses that mimic what we use today were instituted during prohibition because they were the easiest throw the alcohol away if you were to get caught. Sure, some might think, “is it really that much harder to throw liquid out of a wine glass or cocktail glass?”. Well, if you have ever knocked over a martini glass, then you know there is absolutely no saving ANY liquid that was once in there.

Real Functions of the Martini Glass

Well, you’ve heard the legends, now for some facts about what the martini glasses design really does for this beverage. The most obvious feature of a martini glass is the fact that it’s stemware. If you have ever talked to a wine drinker (or are one yourself) then you know the main purpose of this is to protect the drink from temperature changes caused by your hand. Original and classic martinis are made with no ice because they are chilled in the process. Because of this, it is important to use Martini glasses to keep the drink as chilled as possible.

Another key identifier is the martini glasses conic shape. Now, there are a couple reasons for this, some maybe more obvious than others. First, because the glass is in a cone shape, it helps prevent the different ingredients of the drink from separating. The cylinder

Designs Have Varied Over Time, but the Basics of a Martini Glass are Still the Same

shape of a rocks glass allows the alcohol to separate from its mixer and the two to settle (one on top of the other). You’ll know when this happens when you’ve been drinking your vodka cran through a straw. When poured, the alcohol tends to settle at the top. This leaves you with an unfortunate last swig as you drink the liquid from the bottom up.

The other benefit of a martini glasses conic shape is to “open up” the drink to it’s attractive aroma. Some say that this aroma is created through the built up surface tension of the liquid around the rim… In any case, this idea was primarily thought of when gin was used. Because vodka is odorless, this can only benefit any fruity or sugary syrups you might add to your flavored martini.

Lastly, some say that the conic shape is merely there to showoff the olive or twist or whatever other little accents are used. The clear and plain, cone glass shown off by the wonderful splendor of the fresh and perfect green olive… Ya, I’m not really buying into all that. However, the olive is every bit as much iconic as the glass itself, so what do I know?


So there you have it, a little background knowledge on that fancy stemware we call martini glasses. If you ask me, this seems like a pretty good conversation starter next time you see someone drinking a martini at the bar!

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  1. Let’s get real…

    A classic dry Martini:

    *A glass full of ice.

    *2-4 dashes of Martini & Rossi extra dry vermouth depending on your taste preferences (strain out the excess vermouth if you prefer a very dry Martini).

    *Gently pour 2 jiggers (shots) of TANQUERAY or Beefeater London Dry GIN over the ice.

    *Gently stir, strain into a CHILLED Martini cocktail glass, and garnish with a couple of garlic stuffed olives on long toothpicks.

    If you prefer a Gibson, then substitute cocktail onions for the olives. Or, go for it — garnish with BOTH olives and onions and have your vegetables too! Enjoy the Gibtini! If you enjoy a dirty Martini, add some of the olive and onion juice to the mix. If you’re a true Martini fan, you’ll love it — it’s great! Most importantly, ENJOY!

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  2. A chilled crystal stemmed glass
    one & half shots of French Grey Goose Vodka
    three small ice cubes
    a slice of fresh lemon
    2 large Napa Valley green olives (remove the red primento)
    Perfect martini for Patsy~

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