The Martini Named After a Fox Terrier

It doesn’t mean that there aren’t any, but we’ve never encountered a tee-totaling dog person. Just saying. If you are of this stripe, you might find the following a bit boring. If you do like the occasional nip, however, read on.

We may never know the real origins of the classic Martini, but there are plenty of people and locations vying for the honor of being home to the cocktail, including Martinez, California which has even hung a plaque proclaiming itself to be the birthplace of the Martini. As the story goes, in 1849, a miner struck it rich during the Gold Rush. On his way home to San Francisco, the first big town he hit was Martinez, and the chap felt like celebrating. He asked for champagne at a saloon, but not having any, the bartender, Julio Richelieu, said he had something better, a drink he called a, “Martinez Special.” The miner liked it so much thatTHE THIN MAN,fox terrier,dog,asta,martini,drink,cocktail,movies he ordered a round for the house.  After three or four drinks, however, the ‘Z’ sort of fell off the drink’s name, and was slurred into Martini.

Since then, many incarnations of the drink have been invented, and the one below is is a take on the Astor Martini, named after “Asta,” the Wire Haired Fox Terrier in the marvelous The Thin Man movies The recipe?

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • .5 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup
  • .5 oz campari
  • Soda water

2 thoughts on “The Martini Named After a Fox Terrier”

  1. It’s actually more likely that the name Asta was a twist on the Astor name. Some background: the Astors were a prominent and affluent family around the turn of the last century and into the early 1900s, with them building and/or owning numerous properties, most prominently the Waldorf Astoria and the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City. The Knickerbocker is one of the places to lay claim to the birthplace of the Martini, so an Astor Martini wouldn’t be too far off the mark as having been a signature drink either there or one of the other properties.

    The author of the Thin Man, Dashiell Hammett, was a very far-left liberal, even having been a member of the Communist Party and, consequently, was blacklisted after he was called up before McCarthy’s hearings. The Astors, OTOH, as were many other affluent families of the time like the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, were conservatives. It’s not a long stretch, then, to think that Asta was named after the Astors, and quite possibly it was a dig at the prominent family, but Hammett used a feminine form of the name, because in the original book, Asta wasn’t a male wire fox terrier, but a female schnauzer.

    • An entirely plausible theory, Robin, and we’re glad you shared it here! Thanks!

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