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The Martinez Cocktail


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36 replies to this topic

#1 mkayahara

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 10:23 AM

I'm surprised to see that, to the best of my searching abilities, there's no thread dedicated to this one, given it's near-mythic status around these parts. So I thought I'd start one. :biggrin:

Actually, I'm hoping someone can explain to me what exactly constitutes a Martinez. My (admittedly very thin) selection of cocktail books has a couple of different recipes: Savoy and the Official Mixer's Manual both call for equal parts gin and dry vermouth, with orange bitters and either curacao or maraschino. Joy of Mixology calls for 2 parts gin to 1 part sweet vermouth, with maraschino and Angostura bitters. CocktailDB splits the difference, calling for equal parts gin and sweet vermouth, with aromatic bitters and simple syrup, but also gives a variation of near-equal parts gin a dry vermouth, with orange bitters and curacao or maraschino.

Is there a definitive Martinez? Dry or sweet vermouth? Ratio of vermouth to gin? Orange or aromatic bitters? Liqueur or simple syrup?

And what do I use instead of maraschino once my bottle runs out?
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#2 johnder

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 01:40 PM

There are several variation of the Martinez cocktail floating around. They all have Gin, Vermouth, Maraschino and bitters in them, just depends mainly if it is a gin based drink or a vermouth based drink.

I am sure Splif can answe more definitively, but from what I remember the first mention of the martinez was in the Thomas bar guide in which is was 2/3 sweet vermouth and 1/3 Old Tom gin, 2 dashes (1/8oz?) maraschino and one dash orange bitters.

Given it was 2 oz of sweet vermouth and an ounce of Old Tom it was a very sweet drink. It has changed over the years to reverse the proportions so that it is now 2oz gin and 1oz sweet vermouth, 1/4 oz maraschino and 1 dash orange bitters.

That is the "house" recipe at many bars here in NYC if you ask for a martinez. There are some variations floating around. We do one at PDT where it is 1.5oz beefeater, 1.5oz carpano antica, 1/4oz maraschino and 1-2 dashes of orange or abbott's like bitters.

Phil at D&C has been playing around with a Punt e Mes version as well which is pretty amazing.

For me I prefer a slightly sweeter variation of the Martinez, hence the 50/50 gin/carpano.
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#3 johnder

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 01:49 PM

I just looked up the recipe for a Martini in the Harry Johnson barguide which is from 1900 --

It calls for;

2-3 dashes gum syrup
1 dash curacao or absinthe; if required
1/2 wineglass old tom gin
1/2 wineglass vermouth

stir, strain, garnish with cherry or olive if required
and a lemon twist on top.


This could be the source of confusion. It is very similar to a martinez with the exception that you are using gum syrup and or curacao/absinthe.
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#4 Nathan

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 03:14 PM

the only versions I'm familiar with involve the maraschino. (one of the better house drinks at Employees Only is actually a standard Martinez.)

my understanding is that the Martini most probably originated simply from dropping the maraschino in the Martinez.

#5 Dave the Cook

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 04:15 PM

. . . .
my understanding is that the Martini most probably originated simply from dropping the maraschino in the Martinez.

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Robert Hess has another explanation (read about it here) that describes the Martini as a descendant of the Manhattan as much as the Martinez.

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#6 slkinsey

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Posted 08 September 2007 - 04:31 PM

The oldest recipe of the Martinez of which I am aware is from Jerry Thomas:

1 wine-glass of Vermouth (2 oz)
1 pony of Old Tom gin (1 oz)
2 dashes of Maraschino (1/4 oz?)
1 dash of Boker's bitters
Garnish with a quarter-slice of lemon in the glass (not sure if this means fruit or just peel)

I would imagine that the vermouth back in those days was perhaps somewhat closer to Carpano Antica Formula -- which is to say, richer, less sweet and more herbal/bitter than Cinzano or M&R. JT says, "If the guest prefers it very sweet, add two dashes of gum syrup," which makes me believe that he thought it was already a sweet drink.

Other recipes that come fairly soon after JT specify equal parts gin and vermouth, other kinds of bitters (or just generic "bitters") and leave out the maraschino in favor of either curaçao (which, per previous discussions here, was often so sweet and lacking in orange flavor that it was used as a generic sweetener) or just simple syrup. Even as recently as the Savoy Cocktail Book, the recipe for the Martinez is comprised of equal parts gin (no longer Old Tom) and vermouth with orange bitters and either curaçao or maraschino (curaçao being listed first). I'm not sure how we came to believe that maraschino is what makes a Martinez a Martinez, except that maraschino is in the earliest recipe we have.

Interestingly, the Old Waldorf=Astoria Bar Book does not have a Martinez recipe. It does, however, have a Martini recipe consisting of equal parts Old Tom gin and Italian vermouth with orange bitters, a lemon twist and an olive garnish. With the exception of the olive, it's not dissimilar from recipes for the Martinez published 40 years earlier.


As John points out, just as with many old cocktails such as the Manhattan, the ratio of gin to vermouth has been reversed in modern incarnations of the drink and now it is common to see a 2:1 ratio of gin to sweet vermouth (although, just as with the Martini and Manhattan, it is often rewarding to mix the drink in equal parts or even return to the vermouth-based original). One interesting modern Martinez-inspired drink that I like very much was developed by Chad Solomon. It consists of 2 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of bianco vermouth (a sweet white vermouth), 1/4 ounce of maraschino and a few dashes of bitters (John's Abbot's bitters being my preferred for this drink).

Edited by slkinsey, 08 September 2007 - 04:34 PM.

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#7 Chris Amirault

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 05:12 PM

So what are people's preferred ratios and bottlings for a contemporary Martinez? I just made the "Martinez Cocktail, Update" from DeGroff's Craft:

2 dashes Angostura
2 dashes maraschino (Luxardo)
1 1/2 oz gin (Aviation)
1 oz dry vermouth (M&R)
lemon piece for garnish (made a twist)

He says shake, but I stirred.

I like it a lot, but I think it's pretty ginny with the Aviation; my guess is that a less assertive gin would work better, or a bump of the maraschino.
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#8 eje

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 08:32 PM

Hmmm...

Interesting.

I was actually wondering about the Aviation Gin in a Martinez.

But, not to be a crab, I'm kind of wondering what the Dry Vermouth is doing in this version.

Doesn't seem like it would be enough of a foil for the Maraschino.
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#9 Nathan

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 09:30 AM

So what are people's preferred ratios and bottlings for a contemporary Martinez? I just made the "Martinez Cocktail, Update" from DeGroff's Craft:

2 dashes Angostura
2 dashes maraschino (Luxardo)
1 1/2 oz gin (Aviation)
1 oz dry vermouth (M&R)
lemon piece for garnish (made a twist)

He says shake, but I stirred.

I like it a lot, but I think it's pretty ginny with the Aviation; my guess is that a less assertive gin would work better, or a bump of the maraschino.

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2 gin, 1 vermouth, .5 maraschino, bitters to taste.

#10 mkayahara

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 10:16 AM

2 gin, 1 vermouth, .5 maraschino, bitters to taste.

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Nathan, can you elaborate on brands a bit? I'd think half an ounce of Luxardo maraschino would overpower all the other flavours, so I've love to know what types of gin, vermouth and maraschino you're using!
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#11 Nathan

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 10:39 AM

2 gin, 1 vermouth, .5 maraschino, bitters to taste.

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Nathan, can you elaborate on brands a bit? I'd think half an ounce of Luxardo maraschino would overpower all the other flavours, so I've love to know what types of gin, vermouth and maraschino you're using!

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plymouth or citadelle. Martini Bianco or Carpano Antica depending upon which route I want to go with the vermouth (nothing overpowers CA!)...I like a lot of funkiness in my maraschino drinks. 2 dashes you're not even going to notice.

#12 slkinsey

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 10:55 AM

Practically speaking, dashes from an open liquor bottle are going to be a lot bigger than dashes from a bitters bottle with a "dasher top." I almost always take "two dashes" of something such as maraschino, curaçao, grenadine or simple syrup that comes in a bottle to mean "somewhere between a quarter-ounce and a teaspoon." I'd say that's plenty enough to notice, and for my taste, even with something like Carpano Antica Formula (and certainly with M&R Bianco), I'd find a half ounce of Luxardo maraschino dominating the drink. YMMV, of course.
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#13 Nathan

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 10:59 AM

ah...fair point...

(I'll note that for me 2 ounces gin usually means more like 2.25 or so....like to overflow that jigger a little)

#14 Chris Amirault

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Posted 14 September 2007 - 05:35 PM

Tried Gary Regan's ratios from Joy, which are basically those discussed immediately above:

2 oz gin (Plymouth)
1 oz sweet vermouth (Punt e Mes)
1/4 oz maraschino (Luxardo)
1 dash Angostura
lemon twist

Much better drink -- a fine one, in fact. I forgot the Angostura and had to add it in the glass, which balanced the drink in a way I didn't expect. Made it less bitter, oddly, in fact. Go figure.
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#15 hathor

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 10:04 AM

In case you want a roundup of Martinez recipes:http://bit.ly/hu6dya
Thanks to a conversation with Weinoo, my personal cocktail guru.

PS I'll go out on a limb here...there is NO definitive version.

Edited by hathor, 28 January 2011 - 10:05 AM.


#16 Alcuin

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 10:24 AM

I love a good Martinez, and I've been drinking them a lot lately. My favorite way:

2oz Punt e Mes
1oz Junipero
1 (big) dash Angostura bitters
1 t Luxardo maraschino
garnish: Luxardo cherry

If I use Carpano Antica, I like an orange twist in place of the cherry.
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#17 Will

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Posted 28 January 2011 - 11:14 AM

I make mine similar to the Jerry Thomas one. 2:1 Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth to gin, dash of maraschino, and Boker's Bitters.

I use the Ransom "Old Tom" gin, which is fantastic. Probably this drink is sweet enough not to require it, but if you don't use Old Tom style gin, you may want to put a few drops of simple syrup to approximate it. A "perfect" Martinez (with half dry vermouth and half sweet) is also pretty good, IIRC.

I've also made a twist that I call the Dirty Sanchez, replacing the Maraschino with Cynar, and flaming an orange peel over it, sort of like how the Little Italy is to the Manhattan (I leave the bitters in, though):
http://www.runawaysq...-dirty-sanchez/

Edited by Will, 28 January 2011 - 11:19 AM.


#18 EvergreenDan

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 08:43 AM

Will: The name. Oh my. Please consider renaming because it sounds like my kind of drink.
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#19 hathor

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 08:47 AM

Flaming orange peel is where it's at. :wink:

#20 Chris Amirault

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 05:37 PM

I'm pretty close to saying that the Martinez is my "last drink." I've settled into a 2:1:1/4:2 dashes ratio for a while now, but I'll fiddle now and then. Take, for instance, this, which is a tweak based on the early Death's Door bottling and the odd Paolo Lazzaroni Lazzaroni & Figli maraschino -- odd because not funky like Luxardo -- which needs a punch in the face from the Leopold Bros.:

2 oz Death's Door gin
1 oz M&R sweet vermouth
1/4 oz Paolo Lazzaroni & Figli maraschino
2 dashes Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Decanter bitters
1 dash Leopold Bros. absinthe verte

Stir; strain; up, no garnish.

It doesn't need one. Not sure why, but this combination is extremely aromatic. I think that Leopold Bros. absinthe has some wicked good stuff going on.
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#21 Yojimbo

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 03:02 PM

Chris, that's the first time I've heard of absinthe in a Martinez, but given the ingredients and the provenance of the cocktail, it seems a natural.

Must try . . .
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#22 Chris Amirault

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 06:45 PM

I sniffed the Death's Door and the Decanter bitters in sequence, and thought about that Leopold Bros. stuff, which is tricky to use but seemed suited in this case. If I had used Luxardo, I don't think it would have worked nearly as well; the toned-down maraschino did.
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#23 Ian McCarthy

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Posted 12 February 2011 - 11:18 PM

1.5 oz Old Tom. 1 oz sweet vermouth. 2 dashes angostura, 1/4 oz maraschino.

#24 Chris Amirault

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 06:41 AM

Which Old Tom?
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#25 eas

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 03:56 PM

Perhaps more importantly, which sweet vermouth? Whether the light Dolin or a heavier Cocchi VdT or Cinzano, the drink should work. In my opinion, Carpano's Antica, as a vanilla vermouth, overwhelms this drink every time whichever the gin.

#26 evo-lution

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 08:27 AM

For me, pretty much the perfect drink;

60ml Both's Old Tom
30ml Noilly Rouge
2 Dashes Luxardo Maraschino
2-3 Dashes Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Boker's Bitters

Method: Add all ingredients to mixing glass, fill with hand-cracked block ice and stir 15 20 seconds
Glass: Frozen vintage cocktail
Garnish: Fat strip of lemon peel, snap over drink and stem, wipe rim and drop into drink
Ice: N/A


Every so often I'll aromatise the glass with a spray of absinthe, and I have been known to add a teardrop of Grand Marnier or sugar syrup if I want something a little sweeter.
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#27 eje

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 11:29 AM

Perhaps more importantly, which sweet vermouth? Whether the light Dolin or a heavier Cocchi VdT or Cinzano, the drink should work. In my opinion, Carpano's Antica, as a vanilla vermouth, overwhelms this drink every time whichever the gin.

"Cocchi VdT"?

"Cocchi Vermouth de Turin", maybe?

Am I to understand that Haus Alpenz will soon be bringing in another Italian Vermouth, perhaps in the Turin style?

I was unaware that Cocchi even made a Vermouth.
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#28 KD1191

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Posted 14 February 2011 - 01:18 PM


Perhaps more importantly, which sweet vermouth? Whether the light Dolin or a heavier Cocchi VdT or Cinzano, the drink should work. In my opinion, Carpano's Antica, as a vanilla vermouth, overwhelms this drink every time whichever the gin.

"Cocchi VdT"?

"Cocchi Vermouth de Turin", maybe?

Am I to understand that Haus Alpenz will soon be bringing in another Italian Vermouth, perhaps in the Turin style?

Indeed, I now see three Cocchi products on the Hauz Alpenz site:

Cocchi Americano, Cocchi Barolo Chinato & Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
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#29 Katie Meadow

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 07:32 AM

What can we call this? Last night we made a cocktail of 2 parts gin, 1 part Bonal Gentiane, and a dash of rhubarb bitters. It was delicious. I totally love Bonal.

Basically I was trying to make a Martinez, but we don't have maraschino anything. I subbed the rhubarb for angostura, since it's pretty sweet, tastes like cherries to me, and I can't figure out what to do with it anyway.

So gimme a name for my drink if it isn't a Martinez.

#30 Sunny&Rummy

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Posted 30 July 2011 - 10:23 AM

The Martinez is probably my favorite non-rum cocktail. It was one of those revelatory moments for me when I had one done right. I think KP Rick had a Martinez roundup a year or two ago in which he and several others settled on a tweak of Jamie Boudreau's formulation as being the perfect ratios of ingredients. The final iteration from that discussion is basically what I have settled on as the perfect Martinez.

1.75 oz Old Tom gin (Hasyman's)
1.25 oz sweet vermouth (Noily Pratt)
2 tsp. maraschino liqueur (prefer Luxardo, settle for Maraska)
2 dashes Ango

Stir/Ice/strain/up/no garnish

If I use Put e Mes instead of Noily Pratt I dial it back to 0.75 oz and up the gin accordingly.