As you might have gathered, cocktail history is equal parts interesting, contentious and vague. For every cocktail with a crystal clear genealogy, five more exist in a much more nebulous place. Such is the case with the Martinez.
Sometimes called the father of the Martini, this drink is supposedly named for the town in California where it originated. Other cocktail lore suggests it is one of Jerry Thomas’s creations or is named after the bartender who invented it. Unfortunately, there is little information to back up any of these stories.
Even if the Martinez didn’t have a direct impact on the creation of the Martini, each drink represents a different route for mixing gin-based drinks. The Martinez is basically a gin Manhattan complete with sweet vermouth, while the Martini gets the dry vermouth treatment.Interestingly, recipes for each cocktail have varied widely over the last century. Thomas’s How to Mix Drinks (etc) presents a cocktail that has a 2:1 vermouth to gin ratio, while The Savoy Cocktail Book inverts these proportions.
Personally, the more modern recipe is more pleasing for my palate. Though you can occasionally catch me drinking straight vermouth, I prefer cocktails that accentuate the base spirit rather than covering it. In this case, the vermouth tends to overpower the Old Tom gin. This style is heavier on botanicals than the now-popular London Dry gin, and is not as widely available. In fact, only one store in the entire state of Alabama carries a brand of Old Tom.*
The result is a light, nutty drink with a sweetness balanced by the addition of bitters. Even though it finishes dry, the addition of the sweet vermouth provides a depth of flavor beyond the Martini’s searing dryness.
2 dashes orange bitters
1 tsp maraschino cherry liqueur
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 oz Old Tom gin
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Add ice, stir for 12-15 seconds or until the drink is to your taste. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon peel.
*Hayman’s Old Tom gin is available at Lou’s Pub in Birmingham. Disclaimer: I have not been paid or compensated to mention them in this post.