China Martini is a brand name of Calisaya Bitters made by Martini & Rossi in Torino, Italy.
Literature & Lore
There is a popular misunderstanding that China Martini Bitters contains a root called “China Root” in English (aka “smilax china”) that was used in medicine.
Instead, what it contains is Cinchona root (aka quinine, aka Cinchona Officinalis), native to the New World, which in Italian is called “China Calissaia.”
The misunderstanding has led to high-flying tales that these bitters were being made from China Root in eighth China — 700 years before the root that China Martini Bitters is actually made from. Cinchona root, would only have been available to Europeans after the discovery of the New World.
The China in the name is pronounced “keena.”