BLOG: It Pays to Read by Adi Ruiz


A journey into cocktail lore…

By Adi Ruiz

“Giddy with anticipation to get down to the bar I was taken aback further still, when reading on soon after, to discover “martini’s” cocktail.”


Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m quite easily distracted. Because of this fact I’ve been known to go off on a tangent at times – typically to my detriment! Every now and then, however, the gods look sympathetically on mere mortals like myself and so it was while on a tangent I discovered a very interesting snippet from an otherwise very long-winded opera review in a Boston newspaper archive from 1887. I admit it took me a while to realise what I’d stumbled across:

Coppelia and National Ballet Company Begin Season Well

and in the incidents and gossip of last year, we had hoped to forget the company of Violet Cameron.  In anticipation we gathered for the gaieties of the coming season and the more worthy offering of the show, which set the room abuzz with chatter.  Parker’s Bar at the Omni throbbed with giddy participants clothed in the ultra lines of the English style.  Mr and Mrs Robert Goelet, the latter founder of the wonderful Oval Club received my companion Minnie Carlisle and I in good speed into the press.  Colored bartenders produced up many “signet” cocktails, created expressly for the ballet that pleased many ladies of the crowd with a dainty sweet mixture of Hollands gin, Swedish punch and peel of orange.  It must be said men drink too many potent potables and in short time we saw many taken, which scarce need mention such as “Spanish delight,”  “milk punch,”  “sherry cobbler,” and many cups.  One insidious device we were assured went by “fiscal agent”  Cogniac [sic] brandy, absinthe, crème de rose and lemon peel kept us adequately refreshed, while the ladies enjoyed our bartender’s recommendation of “martini’s” cocktail which seemed a simple mixture of Plymouth gin, and French vermouth (of which I avow no knowledge) with the merest dash of curacao.  Delightful.

We did quickly ready ourselves then to witness society give itself up to the show, and faced the bracing air with many others to avail ourselves of the Globe Theatre…

–          Taken from the Boston Daily Globe January 16, 1887

There before my eyes and unveiled here in an Australian Bartender magazine exclusive, was the elusive, and thought-to-be-lost, Fiscal Agent. For the unaware, the Fiscal Agent is an often referred to, but never detailed cocktail thought to be lost in time. It is always mentioned with great fondness and while the article doesn’t give us a spec, the ingredients are listed which is more than enough for us cavalier modern mixing types to tinker with! Giddy with anticipation to get down to the bar I was taken aback further still, when reading on soon after, to discover “martini’s” cocktail.

No claim of origin, no recipe, no bartender, no garnish (and a typo in the name?) – but ingredients listed in 1887!  I’m still to ascertain just how important this reference is on the martini timeline, but it does appear first in a cocktail book in Louis Muckensturm’s Louis’ Mixed Drinks in 1906. Rest assured dear readers that I’m gathering every scrap of info on our most famous of cocktails even as you read this! I’m no stickler for personal glory thus I implore you all – if you can contribute any helpful snippets to the cause carry on. I’m just happy to have got the ball rolling again on an important slice of cocktail lore.

Good luck finding a decent crème de rose, and happy mixing!


Adi Ruiz is the manager of 2009’s cocktail bar of the year, and multi-award winning professional bartender, Adi can now be found plying his trade at Melbourne’s Black Pearl. Adi’s nightlife and beverage musings writing can be found in print and online email him at:

This article appeared in the January 2010 issue of Australian Bartender magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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