Since I acquired a bottle or Luxardo Maraschino, in New Orleans, I’ve been on a mission to make some of the key classic cocktails that I’ve been missing out on. This is partly to see what the classics tasted like and also to fill out my resume as a knowledgeable bartender. I like to think of bartenders as “liquid chefs”, and as a chef, you need to know the classic techniques and recipes before you can be called a knowledgeable chef. So, the first two “classics” were the Aviation and the old school Manhattan, one scoring big, the other not so much. The Martinez seems like the next logical step.
The origin of the Martinez, like many other cocktails, is hazy. Some say a guy named Martinez named it after he combined gin and vermouth. Other versions say Jerry Thomas created it for a guy who travelled to Martinez, California every day. The reality is that there is probably some truth in all of the stories.
What we do know is that the Martinez is the cocktail that inspired the ubiquitous martini. Yes, this is the cocktail, love it or hate it. The one thing you may have noticed is that the original Martinez used sweet vermouth, giving it a deep auburn appearance. Over-time dry vermouth has replaced the sweet vermouth. The ratios have reversed and even gone way too far with vermouth being only a drop or two. The Maraschino and bitters are gone in the martini.
1 oz Plymouth Gin
2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
2 Dash Maraschino
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass.
Flavour-wise this is a pretty decent cocktail. Obviously, the sweet vermouth plays the key role with the gin adding a bit of kick. The bitters and Maraschino round out the flavours by bringing some aromatics and sweetness to the cocktail.
Overall, I like the Martinez, but I’m still a Manhattan fan. For some reason, I just find whisky works better with sweet vermouth, where gin works better with white (dry) vermouth. I think a lot of people probably agree, and that’s why Martinis get the dry vermouth treatment. Other than that, I’m still trying to determine why I’m not a big fan of gin. I like Gin and Tonics, but other than that nothing excites me as a Manhattan does. The quest will continue, though.