1891, short for Martini cocktail (1886), perhaps from Martini & Rossi, Italian firm that makes vermouth (an ingredient of the drink); the firm was in existence then by that name, but it is not specified among the ingredients in the earliest recipes (such as Harry Johnson's "Bartender's Manual," 1888). Another theory holds that it is a corruption of Martinez, California, the town where the drink was said to have originated. See discussion in Lowell Edmunds' book "Martini, Straight Up" (1998).
As the name of a type of rifle used by the British army from 1871 to 1891, it is attested from 1870, from Friedrich von Martini, who invented the breech mechanism on it.
updated on November 28, 2018