Martini, Straight Up: The Classic American Cocktail

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From its contested origins in nineteenth-century California; through its popularity among the smart set of the 1930s, world leaders of the 1940s, and the men in the gray flannel suits of the 1950s; to its resurgence among today's retro-hipsters: Lowell Edmunds traces the history and cultural significance of the cocktail H. L. Mencken called "the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet."

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Overview

From its contested origins in nineteenth-century California; through its popularity among the smart set of the 1930s, world leaders of the 1940s, and the men in the gray flannel suits of the 1950s; to its resurgence among today's retro-hipsters: Lowell Edmunds traces the history and cultural significance of the cocktail H. L. Mencken called "the only American invention as perfect as a sonnet."

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times

Edmunds seems to have unearthed every reference to the martini since its creation sometime in the 1870s, and by researching recipe books from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he has painstakingly reconstructed the actual history of a cocktail swaddled in myth. He tracked down the first shipment of French vermouth to the United States (from Noilly Prat, in 1851). He got the lowdown on Sherwood Anderson's unfortunate death-by-toothpick after drinking a martini. He compiled a list of every martini cartoon ever to appear in the New Yorker. The martini is the last word on cocktails. This book is the last word on the martini.

— William Grimes

Times Literary Supplement

Whether or not you take your martini as seriously as Lowell Edmunds, this is an admirable account of the drink's place in the American dream.

— Justin Warshaw

Well Fed Network

[Edmunds] brings the rigor and thoroughness of a true scholar to the study of the Martini's place in American culture.

Bloomsbury Review

Edmunds treats us to a cultural history of the martini, from its origins in the Gilded Age to its 1990s symbolism... The drink may be dry, but this book is anything but.

— Lori D. Kranz

Out Magazine.

Equal parts academic study, critical appraisal, and love letter, this book sees the martini as the liquid equivalent of jazz—a marvelous and misunderstood American art form... Edmunds fashions a convincing theory that places the feisty cocktail at the very heart of American civilization.

— Stephen Whitlock

Times Literary Supplement - Justin Warshaw

Whether or not you take your martini as seriously as Lowell Edmunds, this is an admirable account of the drink's place in the American dream.

New York Times - William Grimes

Edmunds seems to have unearthed every reference to the martini since its creation sometime in the 1870s, and by researching recipe books from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he has painstakingly reconstructed the actual history of a cocktail swaddled in myth. He tracked down the first shipment of French vermouth to the United States (from Noilly Prat, in 1851). He got the lowdown on Sherwood Anderson's unfortunate death-by-toothpick after drinking a martini. He compiled a list of every martini cartoon ever to appear in the New Yorker. The martini is the last word on cocktails. This book is the last word on the martini.

Out Magazine. - Stephen Whitlock

Equal parts academic study, critical appraisal, and love letter, this book sees the martini as the liquid equivalent of jazz—a marvelous and misunderstood American art form... Edmunds fashions a convincing theory that places the feisty cocktail at the very heart of American civilization.

Bloomsbury Review - Lori D. Kranz

Edmunds treats us to a cultural history of the martini, from its origins in the Gilded Age to its 1990s symbolism... The drink may be dry, but this book is anything but.

New York Times

Edmunds seems to have unearthed every reference to the martini since its creation sometime in the 1870s, and by researching recipe books from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he has painstakingly reconstructed the actual history of a cocktail swaddled in myth. He tracked down the first shipment of French vermouth to the United States (from Noilly Prat, in 1851). He got the lowdown on Sherwood Anderson's unfortunate death-by-toothpick after drinking a martini. He compiled a list of every martini cartoon ever to appear in the New Yorker. The martini is the last word on cocktails. This book is the last word on the martini.

— William Grimes

Out Magazine.

Equal parts academic study, critical appraisal, and love letter, this book sees the martini as the liquid equivalent of jazz -- a marvelous and misunderstood American art form... Edmunds fashions a convincing theory that places the feisty cocktail at the very heart of American civilization.

— Stephen Whitlock

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801873119
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2003
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Lowell Edmunds is a professor of classics at Rutgers University.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

Contents:List of Illustrations

Preface to the Revised Edition

Preface to the First Edition

Introduction

Time Line: The Martini Decade by DecadeThe Simple Messages of the MartiniMessage One: The Martini is American—it is not European, Asian, or African

Message Two: The Martini is urban and urbane—it is not rural or rustic

Message Three: The Martini is a high-status, not a low-status, drink

Message Four: The Martini is a man's, not a woman's, drink

Message Five: The Martini is optimistic, not pessimistic

Messgae Six: The Martini is the drink of adults, not of children

Message Seven: The Martini belongs to the past, not the present

The Simple Messages ReconsideredThe Ambiguities of the MartiniAmbiguity One: The Martini is civilized—the Martini is uncivilized

Ambiguity Two: The Martini unites—the Martini separates

Ambiguity Three: The Martini is classic—the Martini is individual

Ambiguity Four: The Martini is sensitive—the Martini is tough

Historical Background of the AmbiguitiesConclusion

Theory, Method, and Bibliography

Appendix: The Martini Glass

Notes

Index

Johns Hopkins University Press

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