The recipe of the Martinez Cocktail laid the grounds for many of today's famous cocktails, amongst them the classic Dry Martini.
Despite - or perhaps thanks to its many prominent descendants, the Martinez itself is still a winner on every bar menu. It consists of equal parts gin and sweet vermouth, mixed with Maraschino liqueur and a dash of cocktail bitters.
Quick Facts Martinez Cocktail
- Method: stirred
- Flavor profile: boozy, balanced with a slight tendency towards dry
- How to serve it: straight up
- Glassware: coupe glass
- Alcohol content: ~ 24% ABV, 22 grams of alcohol per serving
You can find recipes for different variations of the Martinez (some listed below), but here's the original, also in line with the International Bartending Association IBA.
- 1 Jigger
- 1 Mixing glass
- 1 Bar spoon
- 2 oz Gin or Genever
- 1 oz Sweet Vermouth - (I prefer Antica Formula )
- 0.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with plenty of ice.2 oz Gin or Genever, 1 oz Sweet Vermouth, 0.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur, 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Stir until the cocktail is well-chilled and strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with a twisted orange zest.
Ingredients & Recommendations
The Martinez is an elegant composition of gin, vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, and cocktail bitters. With a boozy mix like this, you want to pay attention to detail when picking your ingredients:
- Gin: We like to use Old Tom or London Dry in our Martinez Cocktail. If you want the traditional approach, though, you will have to use the slightly sweeter Genever. Continue reading below for more tips when picking your spirit.
- Vermouth: The recipe calls for sweet vermouth. I recommend Antica Formula or Cocchi Storico Vermouth Di Torino for this classy drink. Both are of excellent quality.
- Maraschino liqueur: A bitter and dry liqueur with a subtle cherry and almond flavor. Luxardo is considered the real deal, but you can get quality Maraschino liqueur from other brands like Maraska or Lazzarotti too.
- Cocktail Bitters: Angostura Bitters add the final touch to your drink. If you haven't used them before, you might be surprised by the impact a few drops will have.
Best Gin for the Martinez
We recommend using either Old Tom or London Dry Gin for your Martinez. The first will get you a slightly sweeter drink, while the second creates a drier version.
To get your perfect Martinez cocktail, you should pick a gin that suits your palate. Jerry Thomas - most likely the inventor - asks for different types of gin in his various recipes for the cocktail.
Two of them were of English origin, but in his first version, he asks for domestic gin and seems to have been referring to Genever.
Either way, today's Gin selection is not comparable to what it was back then. Nowadays, there are so many types of gin, and picking one can be a challenge.
If you want to take a traditional approach, try malty Genever. It sits somewhere in-between Old Tom (slightly sweeter) and London Dry (drier and more juniper-forward). But you can also experiment with more citrus-forward or floral gins as they also work with vermouth and Maraschino.
Pro Tips for Making a Martinez Cocktail
The Martinez is stirred and served straight up, so no ice is in the glass. If you follow these tips, your drink will be as good as in your favorite cocktail bar:
- Chill your glass before pouring the drink
- Stir for at least 20 seconds to get the right amount of dilution
- Use ice cubes while stirring, don't go with crushed ice because it melts too fast.
- Use quality ingredients & don't forget the bitters. They really do make a difference.
The classic version of the cocktail uses only sweet vermouth. More modern interpretations can include a combination of dry and sweet vermouth, like the recipe from Simon Diffords. Others even substitute it with Curaçao or Cointreau.
You can also experiment with a Genever base instead of the classic Gin base. This combination works remarkably well, delivers a well-balanced drink, and picks up an early approach to the cocktail.
By the way, if the recipe for the Martinez feels familiar, that makes a lot of sense. In fact, the Gin-based drink is a variation of the Manhattan Cocktail.
History of the Martinez Cocktail
The first time the Martinez cocktail recipe was published in written form was in 1884. O.H. Byron included it in his "The Modern Bartender's Guide". Yet, he did not provide a recommendation regarding the type of gin. Most likely, it was an Old Tom Gin or a Genever, as both were quite common at the time.
It might well be that O.H. Bryon also invented the drink. However, historians suspect the cocktail is at least a few years older. In fact, there are rumors that legendary Jerry Thomas might have created it.
If that is the case, the birth of the Martinez probably was after 1876, the year Jerry Thomas published his famous book The Bartender's Guide. This first edition didn't include the Martinez, but the reissue almost ten years later did.
After Jerry Thomas died in 1885, an updated version of his book got published. In this and later version of The Bartender's Guide, you can find a recipe for the Martinez cocktail. - An indication that Jerry Thomas might indeed be the original creator of the classic Martinez cocktail.
Of course, that doesn't prove he invented the drink, as it got printed shortly after O.H. Bryon's book. But still. Also, Jerry Thomas' recipe is very close to those served in today's bars.
For the vermouth part, Jerry Thomas presumably used sweet vermouth in his recipe. However, his book only says vermouth without further specification, which led to speculation and some variations mentioned above.