Martinis to Go

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Berlin Martini
Mazatlan Mango Margarita
Oklahoma Artist, Harold Stevenson ~ the inspiration for Martini Travels
Photograher Terry Zinn at the Grand Hotel, Mackinac
Puerto Rico Martini
Segovia Martini

Photographer Travels the World
Creating A Martini Portfolio

Many people who travel collect souvenirs reminiscent of the locale they have just enjoyed. Not Terry Zinn. He prefers to scout for unusual locations around the world in which to frame his portraits of the classic Martini cocktail.

His fascination for Martinis as a photographic subject began quite innocently. He was introduced to the legendary Oklahoma artist Harold Stevenson in 1995 at an impromptu lunch in Oklahoma City.

“I found Harold to be a most interesting world traveler, with an incredible background, coming from the small town of Idabel in southeastern Oklahoma, where he still lives,” Zinn said.

Stevenson led a celebrity lifestyle. He maintained homes in Paris, New York and Idabel. His paintings were exhibited in Europe and New York. He knew some of the iconic modern artists of his time ~ Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock. One of Stevenson’s paintings was featured on a cover of Life magazine in the 1950s. Much of his art is now in the permanent collection at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman.

“I remember the charisma Harold exuded. He had a Martini at lunch that day and introduced me to his favorite cocktail. Now I can’t help but associate Martinis with the glamour of the worldwide locations he frequented,” Zinn recalls.

That first of many meetings with Stevenson led Zinn on a photographic mission ~ to depict this celebratory drink in a variety of exotic locales. In his professional career, Zinn is the photo processing manager for the Oklahoma Historical Society, a position he has held for 27 years. His leisure time passion is traveling to domestic and foreign destinations, all in quest of the perfect Martini photo.

Of course, on arrival at any of these destinations, Zinn’s first assignment is scouting the area for an ideal location for a Martini photo. When the photo session is complete, Zinn can savor a Martini. If all goes well, it will be served in a proper crystal Martini glass, made with Stoli’s, shaken vigorously at least 50 times, and garnished with three green olives, which Zinn will consider an appropriate appetizer.

“In my travels, I have tried to have a Martini in whatever world-wide locale I was visiting,” he said. “This is not as easy as it seems. Even some of the most upscale establishments in major cities in the world do not offer a proper cocktail in an appropriate Martini glass.”

Domestically, some of the Martini travel locations include Monument Valley, Santa Fe, Savannah, Chicago, Palm Springs and Washington, D.C. Abroad, he has photographed Martinis in Canada, Spain, Belize, the Galapagos Islands and numerous European settings.

“Where I find a good Martini, I usually find epicurean tastes,” Zinn said. “When one can relax and contemplate the beauty and privilege of being in enviable destinations, it’s only proper to give thanks with a beverage for the opportunity.”

He adds, “A photograph is designed to capture a fleeting moment in time and that is what I try to do. Of course, the resulting photograph, viewed much later at home, is a time to revel in a special moment of exceptional travel satisfaction.”

Creating each photograph is often an adventure. For Zinn, it’s often the perfect glass that makes the photo. He’s also learned to improvise. In the worst of scenarios, he’s had to compromise and invent what might seem an improbable setting for a Martini.

Zinn had longed to see Berlin’s historic Brandenburg Gate. On a side tour from a Regent Cruise of the Baltic in 2010, his wish came true. That Martini photograph was made at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski’s outdoor café near the historic gate.

“The Hotel Adlon is historically noteworthy for many things, as well as for the Michael Jackson dangling baby episode,” Zinn recalled.

Sometimes language differences have made getting a good Martini photo difficult.

“Visiting the Roman aqueduct bridge of Segovia, Spain was a visual summer treat coming home from two weeks in Europe. Making time to have a Martini in an outdoor plaza near the aqueduct was my goal, passing up souvenir shopping. But Martini was not in my waitresses’ vocabulary.

“Even after drawing the shape of a Martini glass, she let me know they had no such glassware. Not to be daunted, I ordered vodka with olives. To my surprise, I got a plateful of black Spanish un-pitted olives with my glass,” Zinn said.

“I should have expected such. Once in an eastern European city, I thought I ordered a Martini with three olives, and got three beers instead,” he recalled.

Recently, he has photographed Martinis against the backdrop of Sedona’s Red Rock Canyon, the Mayan ruins in Yucatan, Mexico, Boone Hall and the Trent Jones Golf Course in South Carolina. A yacht-filled harbor in Miami, Florida and a palm-studded resort in Puerto Rico were other perfect Martini photo backdrops.

Of course, this fascination with one of vodka’s most popular drinks has led Zinn on a research trail. He’s read all about its fascinating, rather muddled history, and even previewed the movies where Martinis had a starring role in the story line. Sometimes Zinn’s well-tended rose garden or his eclectic collection of art has served as a stage for his Martini photos.

Since he’s been photographing Martinis for 20 years, he has amassed quite a diverse portfolio. His large canvas prints have been featured in exhibits at 50 Penn Gallery, the Photo Art Studios in OKC’s Plaza District, and the Allied Arts’ ARTini benefit auctions.

His photographic interests are not limited to his Martini portfolio, however. Interesting locales around the state have captured this native Oklahoman’s interest. His historical photographs of Oklahoma events have been featured in the Governor’s Gallery in the Oklahoma State Capitol and the Norick Art Gallery at Oklahoma City University, his alma mater for his undergraduate degree in theater.

His photographs of The Last Pow Wow are now featured in the permanent art collection at the Oklahoma Judicial Center at the State Capitol Complex.

The Martini photographs will always be compelling and can be seen at Just recently, Zinn spent a weekend in Mazatlan, searching again for that perfect locale to portray this irresistible cocktail.

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