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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?
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?