Aperitivo Through the Ages

By Museimpresa

Martini & Rossi

MARTINI - Casa Martini, The Banqueting Room (2020)Museimpresa

The origins of wine

The winemaking tradition merges with the origins of humanity and is rooted in all cultures. The first cellar in history was found in Armenia and dates back to 4100 BC. During the ancient age, winemaking expanded throughout the Mediterranean, particularly in Phoenicia and Greece. From these people the ancient Romans learned the art of making wine and perfected it, improving production techniques and consumption methods.

MARTINI - Casa Martini, Faliscan Olpe, red-figures, -400/-350, From the collection of: Museimpresa
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The MARTINI Wine Museum, the first of its kind in Italy and among the first in the world, tells the story of the thousand-year evolution of this refined liquid, which is the main ingredient of aperitifs and sparkling wines produced by the historic Italian brand.

MARTINI - Casa Martini, Red-figure Attic kylix (decadent period) (-475/-425)Museimpresa


Red-figure Attic kylix early V century BC. The red-figure technique was introduced to Athens around 530 BC and then spread rapidly throughout Magna Graecia. Even today, the Y-shaped glass is one of the most iconic glasses in the world.

MARTINI - Casa Martini, The Cabinet of Curiosities (2020)Museimpresa

Aromatized wines

Wine in ancient times was characterized by a bitter flavour, a high alcohol content and a dark colour: it was necessary to dilute it with water and mix it with herbs and resins to make it lighter and more pleasant on the palate. 

MARTINI - Casa Martini, Small bottle with globular body and long cylindrical neck, 100/400, From the collection of: Museimpresa
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Wormwood and other bitter essences were added to the wine to stimulate the appetite. The wine was then filtered and served in cups during the banquet. Numerous scholars described how to make and flavor wine, but after the fall of the Roman Empire these winemaking techniques were mostly forgotten in the West. They survived in the East, where they were developed and improved.

MARTINI - Casa Martini, Orvietan ceramic pitcher (1250)Museimpresa

Middle Ages

As a result of its geographical position between East and West, it was in Italy that winemaking and flavoring techniques were rediscovered, starting from the 12th century. Objects like this jug testify to the economic vitality of the peninsula in the late Middle Ages.

MARTINI - Casa Martini, Blue glass bottle (1500/1625)Museimpresa


Starting from the 15th century, the tradition of aromatising wines was rediscovered. Venice, was the commercial power of the time: wines from all over the Mediterranean travelled on Venetian ships and were then served in very refined Murano glasses.

MARTINI - Casa Martini, Tino no. 1 (2020)Museimpresa

Vermouth in the 18th century

In the following centuries, commercial and cultural exchanges favored the spread of aromatized wines in Europe. The common characteristic of these wines was that they contained artemisia absinthium among the ingredients: a Latin term that was translated into various languages, among which the German "wermouth" prevailed.

MARTINI - Casa Martini, Pilgrim's flask, 1700/1730, From the collection of: Museimpresa
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Wine aromatized with artemisia (or "wermouth") arrived in Turin in the second half of the 18th century due to the links between the Savoy and Austrian courts. It was an immediate success, so much so that Piedmontese winemakers began to produce their own versions. The optimal conditions for the cultivation of raw materials - grapes and aromatic herbs - combined with knowledge in the oenological field contributed to making production flourish: thus, the "Vermouth of Turin" was born.

MARTINI - Casa Martini, The Historical Entrance (2020)Museimpresa

Aperitivo in the 19th Century

In the first half of the 19th century, vermouth production techniques were perfected and this resulted in the start of industrial-scale manufacturing. Furthermore, in Turin there were numerous cafés, places of sociality and culture where the vermouth trend was raging and where the convivial moment par excellence was spreading: that of the "aperitivo" (aperitif).

MARTINI - Casa Martini, Liqueur travelling set, 1875/1900, From the collection of: Museimpresa
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In this context, three young entrepreneurs, Alessandro Martini, Teofilo Sola and Luigi Rossi, founded Martini Sola e C.ia in 1863, a company for the production of vermouth and ancestor of Martini & Rossi.

MARTINI - Vino Vermouth Martini Sola e C.ia (1870)Museimpresa

The Martini bottle

Martini & Rossi’s history was immediately characterized by its drive towards international markets, a vocation demonstrated by the numerous awards obtained at international exhibitions since 1865. This ambitious vision required a factory with space for expansion.

MARTINI - Rosso Vermouth, 1980, From the collection of: Museimpresa
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Therefore production was established in 1864 at the Pessione site, near Turin, a place that had all the necessary characteristics. In a few decades the factory became "The largest factory of Italian vermouth in the world", as evidenced by the documents of the time preserved in the Martini Historical Archive. This plant is still active and the Martini vermouth continues to be crafted in Pessione, today as yesterday.

MARTINI - Rosso Bottle Evolution (1863/2013)Museimpresa

Evolution of the vermouth label

In its iconographic evolution, the Martini label presents lines of continuity from the nineteenth century until today: from the sumptuous allegorical illustrations to the ever-increasing importance of the logo that dominates the iconographic compositions from 1920s onwards. This bottle timeline demonstrates a stylistic development that reaches the present day in a process of constant innovation.

MARTINI - Bitter (1910/1920)Museimpresa

Other products: the “Americano”

Martini boasts a long tradition in the production of vermouth, as well as other products such as china, bitter, sparkling wines and other types of wines aromatized with bitter essences.

MARTINI - Americano Martini & Rossi. Vermouth Speciale con Bitter (1907)Museimpresa

Starting from 1875, the product list included an aperitif called "Americano" which was also called "special vermouth with bitter". It is a premixed product, which was served with a splash of soda water and lemon zest: an ancestor of the  Americano cocktail.

MARTINI - Casa Martini, Posters (2020)Museimpresa

The product communication

By observing the gallery of advertising posters with the virtual tour of Casa Martini, it is easy to grasp their evolution from the end of the 19th century to the mid-20th century. The posters commissioned by the company, true works of art, support the affirmation of the brand in the world markets. Some of the biggest names in advertising illustration designed the Martini posters, with different style and inspiration, but with the same desire to best interpret the spirit of the times and the soul of the product.

MARTINI - Poster Martini & Rossi Vermouth di Torino (1885)Museimpresa

The first Martini poster

This poster, by an unknown author, depicts a young woman holding a glass of vermouth at whose feet there is a winged cherub holding a bottle of Martini: both figures sit on a column, in the background of which we can see a panorama of the city of Turin, capital city of vermouth.

MARTINI - Terrazza Martini Milano, the lounge (1958/1965)Museimpresa

The perfect place for the aperitivo

While the era of advertising posters was waning in the second half of the twentieth century, new forms of communication were introduced. Among the most innovative we can mention the birth of the Terrazza Martini: an idea that achieved immediate success thanks to its effective simplicity.

MARTINI - Terrazza Martini Leaflet, 1965/1978, From the collection of: Museimpresa
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There were two key elements, the locations and the guests: elegant halls on the top floors of skyscrapers in the center of the most important cities in the world welcomed the great personalities of every country and every sector. The first Terrazza Martini was inaugurated in 1948 in Paris: it was followed by those in Milan (1958), Brussels, London, Barcelona,​​ Geneva, San Paolo, Genoa and Pessione (1961). The unifying element between these places and the people who frequented them was the famous aperitif, Martini.

MARTINI - The Terrazza Martini skycraper (2020)Museimpresa

Terrazza Martini today

Inaugurated in 1958 at the top floors of the skyscraper designed by Luigi Mattioni, the Terrazza Martini in Milan is one of nine Terrazza which were inaugurated by Martini around the world between 1948 and 1965.

MARTINI - Terrazza Martini Milano, the rooftop bar (2020)Museimpresa

Frequented by the most prominent celebrities from the 1960s, cinema has been at the center of the Terrazza activity for decades, with presentations of stars and previews of films that marked an era. The Terrazza Martini still represents the most coveted rooftop lounge in Milan.

MARTINI - Billboard “on the rocks!” (1965)Museimpresa

Martini cocktails

From the classic Martini "on the rocks", through the Martini & Tonic serve, to the iconic Americano cocktail, the tradition of mixed drinking has been influenced by the world of bartending. In the mid-twentieth century, Martini & Rossi contributed to the foundation of Italian and international bartending associations. In 1966, the company launched an award dedicated to young bartenders. Among the other activities which support bartenders, the creation of cocktail books is particularly important, and the Martini Library preserves numerous editions and samples.

MARTINI - Tumbler, 1958/1970, From the collection of: Museimpresa
MARTINI - Tumbler "on the rocks", 1975, From the collection of: Museimpresa
MARTINI - Martini & Tonic Highball, 1960/1973, From the collection of: Museimpresa
MARTINI - Martini cocktail glass, 2000, From the collection of: Museimpresa
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Thanks to the quality of the product, the commercial strategy and the effectiveness of the communication initiatives, Martini quickly became a recognized symbol of Made in Italy. In a chronological and experiential journey, which starts from the origins to reach the present day, Casa Martini takes you on a journey to discover the traditions, people and innovations that have made Martini a synonym of aperitifs throughout the world.

The aperitivo experience

Credits: Story

Founded in 1863 in Turin, the MARTINI brand is part of the Bacardi Limited portfolio, based in Hamilton, Bermuda. Bacardi Limited is part of the Bacardi group of companies, which includes Bacardi International Limited. MARTINI and its trade dress are registered trademarks. Casa Martini and The Martini Archive are based in Pessione – Turin – Italy, at Martini & Rossi SpA. Be responsible: do not drink before or while driving. 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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