The cocktail world owes a lot to the classic Martinez. Made with equal parts gin and sweet vermouth, plus maraschino liqueur and bitters, this old-school variation of the Manhattan went on to inspire the first Martinis and then the Dry Martini as we know it today.
The origins of the Martinez are unclear. It’s possible that legendary bartender and author Jerry Thomas may have invented the cocktail for a customer traveling to the port city of Martinez, California. The city of Martinez, however, insists that a local bartender concocted the drink. This mystery is best pondered over a good cocktail, and we’re betting you know precisely the one.
What is certain is that the Martinez made its first print appearance in the 1884 book, “The Modern Bartender’s Guide” by O.H. Byron. But it’s likely that the cocktail predated the book by a decade or more. This recipe did not specify which type of gin should be used, but given the preference and availability of Dutch genever at the time, it’s reasonable to conclude that it featured this malty style of gin. (English gin had not yet assumed its throne in America.)
The Martinez appeared again in 1887, when it was included in the posthumously published edition of “The Bar-Tender’s Guide” by Thomas. In this version, the recipe specifically called for Old Tom gin, a spirit that lands somewhere between malt-heavy genever and juniper-heavy London dry gin. Over the years, other Martinez recipes called for dry vermouth instead of sweet, or the addition of curaçao, but Thomas’ recipe most resembles the Martinez served today.
Experimenting with gins is a fun way to tweak the recipe. London dry gin will produce a more bracing drink, while modern styles can create a more pronounced citrusy or floral flavor, depending on the bottle. If you want to hew as closely as possible to the traditional recipe, make your drink with Old Tom gin.
When stirred with ice, the cocktail’s ingredients blend into a rich package laced with soft juniper, herbal vermouth and the dry cherry notes of maraschino liqueur. The Martinez is part Manhattan, part Martini, and entirely delicious.
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
- 1/4 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Garnish: Orange twist
Add the gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and bitters into a mixing glass with ice and stir until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Garnish with an orange twist.