The recipe of the Martinez cocktail laid the grounds for many of today's famous cocktails. Amongst them are the first-ever Martini recipes. And also, the later developed Dry Martini is based on the classic Martinez recipe.
But despite 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 some drops of cocktail bitters.
If you now feel that the whole story rings a bell, then you are right. Many of today's classic cocktails evolved from even older recipes.
And so it happens that already the Martinez cocktail is one of them: The Gin-based drink is a variation of the Manhattan cocktail.
History of the Martinez Cocktail
The first time the recipe of the Martinez cocktail got published in written form was in 1884. O.H. Byron included the recipe in his "The Modern Bartender's Guide".
Regrettably, the recipe did not contain a recommendation on the type of Gin to use. Most likely, it was an Old Tom Gin or a Genever, as both were quite common at the time.
One may expect that O.H. Bryon also created it. However, historians assume that the cocktail is at least a few years older. In fact, there are rumors that legendary Jerry Thomas might have invented the drink.
If that is the case, the birth of the Martinez must have been after 1876, the year Jerry Thomas published his famous book "The Bartender's Guide".
And there is an interesting side fact. After Jerry Thomas died in 1885, an updated version of his book got published. In this version of "The Bartender's Guide", a recipe for the Martinez cocktail is included.
Naturally, that doesn't prove who 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.
An indication that Jerry Thomas might indeed be the original creator of the classic Martinez cocktail.
Ingredients of the Martinez cocktail
The Martinez is an elegant composition of Gin, Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur, and cocktail bitters. To make the perfect Martinez cocktail, you need to pick a Gin that suits your palate and pay attention to the other elements, as well.
Best Gin for the Martinez
Jerry Thomas - possibly the inventor of the drink - asks for different types of Gin in his recipe - or recipes to be precise, as he gave four different options.
Two of them are English, which makes sense, considering that the London-style Gins were not that popular at this time. But in the first one, he asks for domestic Gin and seems to refer to Genever. That would indicate that this is the original version.
Either way, today's Gin selection is not comparable to what it was back then. Nowadays, there are so many different kinds of Gin that it's pretty hard to keep track.
Yet, if you want to take a traditional approach to this drink, try Genever. Alternatively, an Old Tom will also work beautifully. It will lead to a sweeter drink compared to using a malty Genever. And it will be less juniper-forward than a classic London Dry Gin.
Saying that, if you opt for a London Dry Gin for your Martinez cocktail, you will get a drier, more crisp drink. But you can also experiment with more citrus-forward or floral Gins.
For the Vermouth part, Jerry Thomas presumably only used sweet Vermouth in his recipe - it only says Vermouth without further specification.
Yet, I like a combination of sweet and dry Vermouth in my Martinez. It creates a beautiful balance and goes particularly well with the Triple Sec. I don't have a favorite for the dry Vermouth, but for the sweet part, I recommend Antica Formula.
Maraschino Liqueur is a liqueur with a strong cherry flavor. Basically, there's only one producer of the real deal - Luxardo. It's made from a particular cherry species - the Marasca cherries. They are only growing on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia.
The taste of Maraschino is bitter and dry, and if you drink it neat, you can detect a subtle almond aroma. However, this slight almond flavor gets lost when you mix Maraschino liqueur into a cocktail.
Angostura Bitters add the final touch to your drink. If you haven't used them before, you might wonder how a few drops of something can make such a difference.
Bitters are real flavor bombs, and Angostura makes them to perfection. So don't leave them off. They are vital for getting the balance of your drink right.
Variations of the Martinez Cocktail
The classic version of the cocktail uses sweet Vermouth as a component. But more modern interpretations can include a combination of dry Vermouth and Curaçao or Cointreau liqueur to replace the sweet Vermouth.
Alternatively, you can also mix all those spirits to receive a perfect balance of the different flavors.
You can also experiment with a Genever base instead of the classic Gin base. This combination works remarkably well and delivers a well-balanced drink.
- 1 Jigger
- 2 oz Gin or Genever
- 1 oz Sweet Vermouth (I prefer Antica Formula )
- 0.25 oz Dry Vermouth
- 0.25 oz Maraschino Liqueur
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with plenty of ice.
- Stir until the cocktail is well-chilled and strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with a twisted orange zest.