Nonfiction | February 07, 2017

Like a languorous panther, the martini is both exquisite and dangerous. Its strength is only matched by its glamour. But it is not to be trifled with. Lauded by Bernard DeVoto as the “supreme American gift to world culture” and by H. L. Mencken as the “only American invention as perfect as the sonnet,” the martini, when drunk in excess, can be ruinous. But when imbibed properly, in the proper quantity and at the proper time with the proper company, it can be the most joyous and transcendent cocktail in the world. But it is far more than just a cocktail. The martini is an experience, an art form whose sought-after perfections are perpetually elusive. It is less product than pursuit. It is a constant study. And like all art elevated to that high aesthetic plane, the martini is intensely personal and fiercely debated among its loyalists, of whom I once counted myself a rank-and-file member.

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