Two iconic drinks, and one iconic birthplace. Now some may combat me and say that the martini we know today was created here in the states, but from what I have read, and what I believe, it dates back to the mid 1800's. "Martini & Rossi" was created, and was used to create the first martini, hence the name. If you haven't heard of Martini & Rossi, you haven't had enough to drink! They are, still, one of the most iconic liquor lines you will find in every alcohol selling establishment. Now, most well known for their variety of vermouths. Negronis are through and through an extremely classic refreshing and alcohol forward cocktail with a wide array of variations depending on where you are. Basic ingredients are as follows; equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
This post isn't one to tell you the definition and history of both drinks, but rather focus on their place in the life of a bar today. Now, I will admit, these usually aren't going to be the drinks that you order at a NYC nightclub, but in all honesty, cocktail integrity and craftsmanship is not at the forefront of the bartenders mind when they are more likely than not making your tequila soda.
Tradition is hugely important, and for a valid reason. Innovation and creation is imperative to us as a civilization, moving forward, but we mustn't forget how we got here, and most importantly, what still works for us. I know that's a very philosophical statement when talking about a drink, but it applies. The success of a bar depends on two things, either the quality of their drinks, or the experience. Usually, you get one or the other, but sometimes you come across a place that gives you everything you could have wanted from a bar, that is almost always the place that has paid tribute to bar and liquor traditions. I have made it a point to always visit a bar when I travel to a new place, or town, or whatever it may be, and always like to see what is done differently and the same.
Martinis and Negronis fall into the category of drink that is both hard to mess up and hard to get right. For the most party, anyone can make both of these drinks, the finesse shows when you introduce different techniques. The difference can be equated to the difference between driving a Honda and a Mercedes. Both drive, but one is obviously more enjoyable than the other. A double strainer can make all the difference.