The gin martini and Manhattan with rye whiskey are two of my favorite classic cocktails. As luck would have it, my love of these two drinks led me to another classic… The Martinez cocktail.
As is the case with many classic cocktails, the history of the Martinez is a little uncertain. The first written recipe for the Martinez appeared in O.H. Byron’s 1884 book, The Modern Bartender’s Guide. A few years later, it was also published in Jerry Thomas’ book, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion. Some stories claim the drink comes from the town of Martinez, California, while others believe it hails from New York. Regardless of its start, the Martinez is a classic drink that we can once again enjoy today.
The Martinez cocktail is a mixture of Old Tom gin, Italian (sweet) vermouth, maraschino liqueur and bitters. Old Tom gin is slightly sweeter than London Dry, yet lighter and less intense than Dutch genever. For a while, Old Tom gin had disappeared from shelves making it impossible to truly enjoy the Martinez cocktail. Thankfully, a few producers have brought this gin back to life and it can now be found in stores. Two brands that I see most often are Hayman’s and Ransom. Tanqueray also has an Old Tom Gin called Malacca that has started making its way back to the market. All are worth trying if you can get your hands on them.
For the bitters, the original recipe calls for Boker’s bitters, which also disappeared from the cocktail scene for a bit. The bitters have also been recreated and can be found online or in select stores. If these aren’t available for you, substitute orange bitters, which are much easier to find.
Some people don’t like the sweetness of the Martinez cocktail, thus preferring the drier martini. However, those who enjoy the Manhattan should find the Martinez to be to their liking. I happen to enjoy all three, but never at the same time. I do have my limits, people.
- 1-1/2 ounces Old Tom Gin
- ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
- ¼ ounce Maraschino liqueur (try Luxardo)
- 2 dashes Boker’s bitters (or orange bitters)
- Lemon twist for garnish
- Add all ingredients except for garnish to a mixing glass with ice.
- Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a lemon twist.
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