Martinez Recipe Comparison


Every cocktail menu should list the Martinez it on its pages. Not because it’s the precursor to the martini and should be revered… not because we need more martini-like drinks that don’t start with the name of a fruit… and not even because classic drinks are making a resurgence on modern menus. No, it should be emblazoned in fiery ink on all bar scrolls because it is the quintessential drink, and may be my favorite. How can one drink be soothing and bright at the same time? Complex and comforting. Even sexy and old-school. The Martinez is as hot as Stan Jones.

There are certain classic drinks that we all keep coming back to. The Manhattan and the Martini are two obvious ones, but others like the Last Word, Vieux Carre, and Martinez also seem to be in permanent rotation. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a perfect recipe for each one? Oh, but there is.

Rules for Creating a Perfect Martinez

There are a few hard fast rules to follow that will most always guarantee you a good Martinez:

  1. Carpano Antica – I’m honestly not sure why you would be using any other sweet vermouth on a regular basis anyway, but if you need reasoning, Carpano adds a sultriness to the texture of the Martinez that no other vermouth I tried did. It’s definitely not a delicate vermouth, nor do you want one.
  2. Old Tom Gin – The slight bit of sweetness an Old Tom brings to the table is exactly what you want in a Martinez. Other gins will work, such as Citadelle Reserve, but more juniper-angry gins make you think too much when you should just be enjoying it.
  3. Garnish – All the richness you’ve created above needs to be controlled by something. The orange bitters help with this immensely, but a strong hand with a lemon or orange twist finishes the job.
  4. Ice – If you don’t have an ice kraken in your house, pretend you do when you’re filling you’re mixing glass. Any cocktail swiller knows the importance of a cold drink, but at over 3oz of moderate sweetness, this one needs it a bit more.

The Recipes

Jerry Thomas

  • 1oz old tom gin (used Hayman’s)
  • 2oz sweet vermouth (used Carpano Antica)
  • 1 barspoon maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes aromatic bitters (used Bitter Truth)
  • lemon twist, for garnish

For being so ridiculously sweet, Thomas’s version isn’t actually that bad. I mean, if you want to taste gin in your Martinez, keep reading, but it’s not without merit.

Erik Ellestad’s Savoy Variation

  • 1 1/2oz Hayman’s Old Tom Gin
  • 3/4oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
  • 1t Luxardo Maraschino
  • 1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters
  • lemon twist, for garnish

You’d think using less vermouth would make for a perfect version… The 2:1 ratio is definitely dryer, and I could see how this may be preferred by some, but I’m one of them. Not sure what I think of the Angostura aromatic bitters in here. They do the opposite of what Erik suggests and bring out the marshmallow notes even more. (Hopefully Erik will see this and come yell at me.)

SeanMike by way of The Gibson and Jamie Boudreau

  • 1 1/2oz Hayman’s Old Tom gin
  • 1 1/2oz Carpano Antica
  • 2t maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes Angostura orange bitters

For better or worse, this recipe comes from Jamie Boudreau, who doesn’t work at The Gibson, though I have no idea where he got it from. Though you can obviously see he doesn’t know what he’s doing based on his bitters choice :) Oh, you know I love you Jamie.

This is also pretty much a perfect Martinez recipe. Unhealthily so. Several of the CSOWG crew participated in the recipe comparison, and this rendition took top honors. I tried a variation on it using 1 1/4oz vermouth instead of 1 1/2oz, though at that point, it was a futile attempt to tweak perfection: like adding kewpie mayonnaise to every Momofuku dish.

That’s It?

There’s a whole list of recipes that we tried, but the ones above were the stand-outs for me. Perhaps you disapprove and would like to share your favorite Martinez recipe?

KP Question

So I claimed this may be my favorite cocktail at the beginning of the post, though that’s like saying I like pork belly more than the jowls.

  • If forced by whatever horrific situation your mind can conjure to pick your favorite cocktail, what would it be?

23 Responses to “Martinez Recipe Comparison”

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23 Comments to “ Martinez Recipe Comparison”
  1. SeanMikeNo Gravatar says:

    Actually it was because I combined their two recipes – but it’s been long enough now I don’t remember the details!

  2. JamieNo Gravatar says:

    In 2006 I reposted the Martinez recipe on my new version of SpiritsandCocktails from my old website which was formed in 04/05. The choices of orange bitters was quite limited in ’06, let alone ’04. I would use Hermes orange now, so suck it little boy kaiser! ;-)

  3. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    I guess it’s time I made this again. I did it once a few years ago, but I have a special attachment to the Martinez at the Laurel Court in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel here in San Francisco. It’s based on Tanqueray 10, and certainly good–sweet, but structured and not too sticky. But more to the point, it’s what I’ve come to associate with the experience of the drink. I never order anything else there, and never try to drink it anywhere else. A lemon twist, as Manuel the bartender would tell you, is the thing for a Martinez.

  4. FredericNo Gravatar says:

    I’m going to pull out my Wondrich card and say that the first Martinez was probably made with Genever, and I’ve found Boomsma Oude works wonderfully (the Jonge does too)! Haven’t made one since the Bols product came out though.

  5. RowenNo Gravatar says:

    And Boomsa Oude is great with maraschino.

  6. MarshallNo Gravatar says:

    I refuse to answer your question on principle. If people don’t know my favorite drink by now, I don’t know if you’re truly my friend. However, seeing as I am a practical booze-hound and you probably get way more hits than we do, I shall acquiesce.

    Cocktail a la Louisiane
    1oz each of Rye, Carpano Antica, Benedictine; .25oz Absinthe; 3-4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters; Stir until too cold to hold; I like mine garnished with a lemon twist and a Maraschino cherry.

  7. scomorokhNo Gravatar says:

    Wow! I like the awesome garnish on your photo of Martinez. Actually the Martinez is one of my favorite cocktail. My investigation of this cocktail you may read – here.

  8. Jay HepburnNo Gravatar says:

    I think the Martinez would probably have to by mine too. Same ratio too, though I’d use one of the German Haromex Old Tom’s (which one would depend on my mood) and the “Pegu Club Orange bitters” (1/2 Fees, 1/2 Regans’). A very special cocktail.

  9. Dr. BambooNo Gravatar says:

    My Favorite Martini: 3 oz. Bombay Sapphire gin, .25 oz. Noilly Prat dry vermouth. Shake like hell and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Drop in one olive. Relax.

  10. BenANo Gravatar says:

    While I like the Martinez a lot (and am in fact now sipping one made with SeanMike’s excellent recipe–with Martini & Rossi as the vermouth since Carpano Antica is unavailable in my neck of the woods), my favorite cocktail at the moment is the Vieux Carre made with Robert Hess’s ratios (3/4 oz Rye, 3/4 oz Cognac, 3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth, 1/4 oz Benedictine, dash Peychaud’s Bitters, dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters), though I tend to stir it with ice first then strain it into a rocks glass with fresh ice rather than building it in the rocks glass. The garnish is a lemon twist, of course.

  11. Every recipe here is wrong because it doesn’t have Ransom OTG.

  12. The ConciergeNo Gravatar says:

    Coincidentally, I was speaking with someone a few hours prior to this post regarding how a Martinez is my go to drink for evaluating a bartender.

    It is probably my favorite classic cocktail; however, it was not until I had it with Carpano and real Old Tom Gin (versus Plymouth + simple) that I discovered that I enjoyed it quite so much.

    I prefer mine with 2oz Carpano, 1oz Ransom OTG, 1 Large Barspoon Luxardo Maraschino, formerly 2 dashes Bitter Truth Orange, Orange Twist. However, recently I had the Boker’s bitters in this and it was quite amazing. I am awaiting my delivery of Boker’s from Cocktail Kingdom to reevaluate it.

    I like when a bartender announces the Vermouth that he will use, waits for nod of approval, and asks you whether you want a lemon or orange twist. ( However, it this drink is listed on menu- it should be made as stated unless customers asks for substitution)

    I need to learn your technique for making that orange peel swirl!!!!! – Please post technique/tools used.

  13. Dominik MJNo Gravatar says:

    I was pretty surprised, when I tried out the Martinez with G’vine Flouraison; I found the Gin pretty useless – but my last attempt was the Martinez and it worked.
    Well – due to the not availability of Carpano Antiqua, I used dried bing cherry infused Martini Rosso… and it worked [I use the infused Martini Rosso now for almost everything – even if guests are asking for red vermouth on the rocks]. And in absence of Angostura Orange, I used the TBT Orange Bitters.

    I found the Martinez many moons ago, quite unattractive for my palate – but then, with a stronger gin [I think it was T10] and also without infusion of the vermouth.

    May I add, that I [which is remarkable for me, as I usually prefer a heavy spirit base] like mine 1 part [3 cl] each vermouth and gin, a dash or two bitters and a teaspoon of Luxardo Maraschino!
    There is no need to make it one and a half ounces… the cocktails is the best, when it still shines at you…

  14. […] 8, 2010 by Nate This afternoon I was thinking about a recent Kaiser Penguin post comparing recipes for the Martinez cocktail. He insisted on four things: Old Tom-style gin, Carpano […]

  15. RickNo Gravatar says:


    Making the garnish was easy. Getting it to balance on the rim of a glass while taking a picture outside where it was windy, was not.

    Use a nice y-peeler to get a long orange peel from a thick-skinned orange. Trim it neatly with a paring knife and roll it up tightly. That’s pretty much it. I think I was actually trying to make some ridiculous cone-shaped garnish and got frustrated and went with the spiral.

  16. The ConciergeNo Gravatar says:

    The neatness of the edges coupled with an absence of any visible pith is what stands out. Removing all visible pith can often lead to rips. What brand peeler did you use? I use an OXO and I find it is not sharp enough

  17. RickNo Gravatar says:

    I just use whatever random, crappy plastic y-peeler I can find. When dull, discard and buy another for $3.


  18. DinahNo Gravatar says:

    Do try it with the Bols Genever. Mmmm, so good.

  19. Matt RoboldNo Gravatar says:

    I’m rather late to the party, but I’ll weigh in anyway.

    Picking a favorite cocktail is really really really really hard.

    I guess if forced I could narrow it down I would go with either a Daiquiri or a Last Word…or maybe a Manhattan. Dammit. I’m really not sure. I go through phases like the friggin’ moon.

    How about this: The Hemmingway Daiquiri. Just about the perfect drink.

  20. SelenawritesNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for this comparison. I love the Martinez, but I’m not a huge maraschino fan, so I use Benedictine instead. Made some lovely ones last night with Citadelle Reserve, but agree Old Tom is best. It’s a perfect drink anytime of day/night.

  21. Coat RackNo Gravatar says:

    prefer mine with 2oz Carpano, 1oz Ransom OTG, 1 Large Barspoon Luxardo Maraschino, formerly 2 dashes Bitter Truth Orange, Orange Twist. However, recently I had the Boker’s bitters in this and it was quite amazing. I am awaiting my delivery of Boker’s from Cocktail Kingdom to reevaluate it.

  22. RebeccaNo Gravatar says:

    I tried the “Erik Ellestad’s Savoy Variation” yesterday at a party we had in our house and I just want to shre the experience – people loved it! Thanks for the recipe and we’ll surely do it again.

  23. […] Kaiser Penguin’s Martinez Recipe Comparison […]

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