from CosmicVariance.com via 3QuarksDaily
The martini's perfection is deceptive because of its near-inevitability. Every aspect of the cocktail manifests its individual degree of perfection, so we are hardly surprised (that is, not as much as we should be) when it all comes together so elegantly. Gin, originating in the Low Countries and elevated to iconic status in Britain, forms the foundation of this quintessentially American drink. The basic white grain spirit is enlivened by the slightly exotic flavors of juniper and other botanicals. It's everything you want in a foundation: solid and agreeable, perfectly transparent without being empty or boring. Dry vermouth, a fortified wine that is quite acceptable as a separate aperitif, but only reaches toward divinity in its role as a secondary ingredient against the gin. And the olives, suggesting a touch of the Eastern Mediterranean, adding a worldly spiciness and lush green roundness to the austerity of the cocktail.