The Martinez

Here’s a classic that you’ll definitely want to note. If you’re a fan of the Manhattan or the Negroni, who knows, it may even become a new favorite! Me, I’m totally hooked. Delicious and complex, strong and balanced, this cocktail has a warmth to it that I’ve never experienced with gin. It’s rapidly become a favorite and I don’t foresee that changing any time soon.

Of all the cocktails proudly wearing the ‘classic’ badge, the Martinez is perhaps the most deserving. Often named the Father of the Martini, this is an old, old drink with a beautiful, burnt honey colour and a complicated but well-balanced, taste. 

The roots

“born of the Manhattan….and is the father, or perhaps grandfather, of the Dry Gin Martini.”

Steeped in tradition, the Martinez is the evolutionary missing link between the Manhattan and the Martini.

The history of the Martinez revolves around a number of theories, but let’s stick to the most plausible one: created by San Francisco bartender Jerry Thomas, a sweet drink for a client travelling to (where else?) Martinez! In Martinez, there’s even a plaque proudly hung up to commemorate its creation.

Despite the foggy history surrounding the Martinez cocktail, there’s no doubt that it was a step in the evolution of the Martini.

We can safely assume that the Martini and the Martinez emerged at about the same time.

More specifically, they were developed in the late 1860s and into the 1870s, when vermouth became a common ingredient in American cocktails. First created in Italy (Cinzano in 1757, Carpano in 1786, Martini & Rossi in 1863), sweet vermouth, also known as “red” or “Italian” vermouth, arrived on the US shores; the Martini brand seems to have made up the majority of the import market, likely resulting in the King of Cocktails being named for it.

“Dry” or “French” vermouth gained popularity just after the turn of the 20th century, resulting in bar-goers ordering “dry” or “perfect” cocktails, perfect meaning the drink held a blend of dry and sweet vermouths.

The first Martinez was almost definitely made with sweet vermouth and Old Tom gin, a sweeter, aged gin prevalent in the 1800s.

So how did the Martini of Jerry Thomas’ time become the clear, minimalist gin and vermouth concoction that became synonymous with James Bond and mid-century cocktail culture? A number of factors contributed to the Martinez becoming the Martini. Part of it was simply changing tastes. Old Tom gin fell out of fashion, replaced by the London Dry style that most people recognize as gin today — your Bombay Sapphire, Tanqueray, Beefeater, or Gordon’s. Similarly, affinity for sweet vermouth was replaced around 1900 with a preference for dry vermouth.

Despite what many people think these days, a “dry” Martini did not always mean “a Martini with as little vermouth as possible”. It simply meant a Martini made with dry vermouth, rather than sweet. Exactly when and where the olive came into the mix is… 

The makin’s
1 part Gin
1 part sweet vermouth
Dash of maraschino liqueur
Dash of Angostura bitters
Lemon twist for garnish

The drill
Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes
Stir well
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Twist the lemon peel over the drink and drop it in the glass


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