You may be wondering, Martinez? Don’t you mean Martini? Well, we mean both. You see, the origin of the Martini is somewhat fuzzy, but almost everyone agrees that the Martini started life as the Martinez, and when you consider the ingredients and how cocktails evolve, it’s easy to believe.
As important and recognizable as the Martini is in the pantheon of cocktails, few people have ever heard of the Martinez. Instead, we recognize the V-shaped glass dripping with sweat, the ice cold gin and vermouth glistening like a clear, perfect gem, the olive or lemon twist garnish—the Martini is iconic. And yet, we are really talking about the Dry Martini, a more accurate name because of the fact that it is made with dry, French vermouth. Of course, that would imply there was a sweet version, right?
It’s true. The first Martini was concocted of gin and sweet, Italian vermouth, making it red! It’s hard to imagine calling such a drink a Martini today with the all of the shyness that seems to surround a vermouth bottle. Even though early versions were mixed 50:50, these days it’s more about mixing an extremely dry Martini containing mere drops of dry vermouth—or sometimes none at all. But what does this have to do with our Drink of the Week, the Martinez?
As it turns out, the Dry Martini owes its existence to the combination of gin and vermouth—a marriage first enjoyed by the Martinez. The addition of maraschino gives it an exotic cherry sweetness, and the bitters helps make the Martinez a classic cocktail in the truest sense.
1.5 oz gin
1.5 oz sweet vermouth
2 barspoons maraschino liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir to chill. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge or a twist.
If you make the Martinez, you are going to taste the vermouth. To those of you who think it’s a bad idea, we suggest that you try Carpano Antica Formula. It’s so good you could sip it by itself, and you will be looking for any recipe you can find that requires sweet vermouth. Keep it refrigerated to preserve the flavor. You could also try Cocchi Di Torino, another fantastic vermouth without the vanilla overtones of Carpano. We also love Cinzano—made at the Branca distiller just like Antica, but much cheaper and more widely distributed. Whatever you use, treat yourself to a new bottle. Old, oxidized vermouth is nasty and probably explains why people shy away from it.
The maraschino liqueur makes this a sweeter drink, but compared to the earliest recipes for the Martinez which had twice as much vermouth as gin, making the propotions equal as we have here is a good compromise that keeps each ingredient from dominating. The Martinez also enjoys a couple dashes of bitters. Orange bitters works nicely, but so does Angostura, helping to season the cocktail and bring all of the ingredients together. It may be hard to detect the bitters as you sip it, but you definitely notice if you leave them out. Don’t skip the bitters!