Additional reporting: Sam Davies
With their racing credentials, relationships with top Milan fashion houses, and their reputation as the tipple of the stars, Martini is on an a mission to take Italian luxury worldwide.
When I arrive at Pessione — the town just outside Turin that is home to Martini HQ (aka Casa Martini) — it's the day before the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Lewis Hamilton will eventually win, but as usual it's the fans walking the track post-race that steal the show. The sight of them is impossible to forget: thousands of roaring fans clad in red pouring onto the track like a tsunami, letting off red smoke flares into the sky. They're there for Ferrari (hence the red) — and have a football Ultras vibe about them. They're superfans.
Sometimes a brand becomes more than itself, it becomes a way of life. We see that mainly in the sporting world, but not exclusively. In Pessione, I will hear about hour-long queues that stretch over blocks to have a drink in the pop-up Martini Terraza.
The Martini terrazze (terrace bars) achieved iconic status in Italy, especially Milan, as the venues in which anyone who is anyone is seen and although many have closed, their reputation has persisted since their height in the '50s and '60s. The small pop-up versions that have appeared as part of race days can pull in the size of crowds like you might anticipate for a celebrity.
Martini superfans are out there, and they're plentiful, spurred on by grand collaborations with fashion houses, their long-standing relationship with racing, and globally a rise in Italian apertivo culture which for many, has Martini at the heart. We take a look back at the iconic brand.