Oppenheimer Took His Martinis With A Sweet And Sour Rim

Martinis are great. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the history-making physicist, is perhaps not so great, depending on your views on the atomic bomb. One thing isn't up for debate, though — the man loved a martini. Martinis have changed over the decades and can have a variety of proportions of vodka or gin, sweet or dry vermouth, bitters, and olive juice. Some bartenders go off-book with additions like simple syrup in a martini, but for the most part, a simple martini served super cold with a lemon twist or skewered olives is a classic. Earlier versions of the martini had more vermouth in the mix, but these days a five-to-one ratio of gin or vodka to vermouth is popular.

Oppenheimer's recipe, shared online by the Los Alamos National Laboratory that he helped establish, is not so classic as it has a sweet and sour rim made with honey and lime juice, and calls for only a touch of vermouth. In recipe testing done by The Washington Post, writer Emily Heil figured, "If we take the "dash" stipulated in the Los Alamos recipe to be about a quarter of an ounce, the "Oppie" martini has an eye-popping 16-to-1 ratio of gin to vermouth."

How do you make Oppenheimer's martini?

This martini is definitely an interesting take, and is even shown in passing in the book-turned blockbuster hit "Oppenheimer." Said book, written by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin and titled "American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer," gives details on how Robert Oppenheimer would make or order a martini. Oppenheimer took a page from James Bond's book and liked his martinis shaken, not stirred. He also preferred them to be exceptionally cold.

Because this martini doesn't have a whole lot going on, make sure you use a high-quality gin. Stir together honey and lime juice and gently dip the rim of a chilled martini glass in the mixture. Then, combine four ounces of gin and just a whisper of dry vermouth in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into the glass and serve.

When Oppenheimer first saw the effects of a prototype of the atomic bomb that was detonated in Alamogordo, New Mexico, he supposedly uttered the phrase, "Now I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds" (via National Geographic). You might be inclined to murmur the same thing as you serve a martini with a whopping four ounces of pretty much straight gin each.