Before Martini, there was Martinez

martinez cocktailMany cocktails have predecessors, but perhaps none was quite as important as the under appreciated Martinez, a gin and sweet vermouth concoction that helped pave the way for the ubiquitous martini.

As with many cocktails, origins of the Martinez are a hazy mess of conflicting stories. Some say it was created by a gent named Martinez, while others claim it was crafted by famed bartender Jerry Thomas for a fellow traveling to Martinez, California. Both sound reasonable enough to me, but whatever its origins, it’s another good excuse to combine gin and maraschino liqueur, which work well in drinks like the Aviation and Last Word.

Proportions for the Martinez vary greatly, with some calling for a 2:1 ratio of gin to vermouth, and others calling for the opposite. I tried a few different variations before settling on the one below, which offers plenty of sweetness but enough gin to maintain its integrity. Speaking of gins, try using an Old Tom Gin, if you’ve got one. Its sweeter profile and silky nature work nicely here.

The Martinez:

1 1/2 ounces old tom gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice in a mixing glass, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange or lemon peel.

Written by Kevin Gray

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