There are few symbols in the drink world more powerful, more recognizable or more American than the Martini glass. An angular monument to Deco design, its characteristic V-shaped bowl and fine stem have long represented that most iconic of drinks, so much so that there is arguably no other image that better communicates the very notion of the cocktail.
There is also no glass more despised by today’s bartenders.
“Just as architecture moved in the direction of brutalism, so the Martini became excessively dry, flavorless vodka replaced gin, and the ritual of mixing was abandoned in favor of the Martini on the rocks,” writes Edmunds. “In both cases, the esthetic impulse of modernism was carried to a self-defeating extreme.”
What had once been, in effect, an emblem of the middle-class cocktail party was by the ‘60s being outwardly shunned as disagreeably dry, too spirituous and representative—both literally and metaphorically—of American corporate values as epitomized by the advertising culture of Madison Avenue.
“The purity, transparency, and lack of messiness of the perfect American cocktail now seemed to mirror a sterile lack of messiness in life and work,” explains Rudin, “won at the expense of emotional involvement and the realities of life.”
Following its nearly two decade-long decline, the Martini would fall out of vogue entirely by the early ‘70s. In 1973, Esquire derided it as “a bitter, medicinal-tasting beverage” that represented “everything from phony bourgeois values and social snobbery to jaded alcoholism and latent masochism.”