Watergate martini

The Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC Offers a Delectable Martini

June 17 marks the anniversary of 1972’s Watergate Scandal and normally we wouldn’t raise a glass to toast such an ignoble moment in American history. Yet even the historic scandal overlaps with a signature cocktail, in the form of a fail-safe martini. To mark the scandal’s anniversary, Washington D.C.’s The Watergate Hotel — the site of the 1972 break-in — will serve a $0.72 martini at its restaurant Kingbird. Even if you’re not in D.C., the martini offers a sip of history, thanks to the drink’s symbolism and presidential connection. 

“It’s been reported that [Richard Nixon] was drinking a martini the night the Watergate scandal drove him from office,” The Watergate Hotel told Look. “By default, the hotel will shake their martinis as an ode to Nixon also preferring his martinis shaken, however we will of course, always ask for the guests’ preference.”

The hotel’s martini is representative of the elite classes in the 1970s, and therefore encapsulates history, drink by drink. Even now, a martini exudes sophistication, from the aesthetic of a chilled martini glass to the balanced flavors of olives, vermouth, and gin. 

Yet the martini is a cocktail that invites variation, and even President Nixon had his preferences. No, the president was not sipping on espresso martinis. Instead, he kept things classic, with one particular ratio — and controversial mixing technique. 

Nixon’s go-to martini supposedly shook 7 parts gin with 1 part vermouth

Martini glass

In martini recipes, gin trumps vermouth, while olives round off the drink. The exact ratios of the two liquors range, but generally fall anywhere from four parts to eight parts gin for every one part vermouth. President Richard Nixon’s supposed martini of choice is no exception. 

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“Super fun fact about the martini and its significance at the hotel: President Richard Nixon was an avid martini lover and liked his gin to vermouth about seven to one,” the Watergate Hotel told Look.

Additionally, Nixon has been said to soak his martini’s olives in vermouth before adding them to his glass. Yet once all the ingredients were in place, the president supposedly opted for his martinis shaken, not stirred. This technique counteracts common martini protocol; stirring is often recommended for cocktails that consist entirely of liquor. That’s because it’s a more gentle process, better suited to the martini’s simple ingredients. Then again, this rule not only contradicts Nixon’s preferences but those of the world’s most famous secret agent — James Bond. 

Clearly, the martini is indicative of decades-past events, though its significance has since reached recent politics. President Obama has been known to order his martinis extra shaken. If a shaken martini is good enough for Obama, Nixon, and James Bond, maybe it’s time for a try. 

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