The Martinez is the precursor to the Martini, and a fantastic drink in its own right. Broadly speaking, it's a Martini with sweet vermouth (or a Manhattan with gin), though it was traditionally made with old tom gin, an older style of sweetened and, sometimes, barrel-aged gin. It was very popular at the end of the 19th century and, thankfully, much more available now that it was 5-10 years ago.
A barrel aged old tom, like Ransom, is my personal favorite in a Martinez, but even if you don’t that in stock, pretty much any gin, in any style, will make a great Martinez. The drink will, of course, come out differently, but that’s part of the fun (note: if you use a London dry style gin some may point out that the resulting drink is closer to a Hearst cocktail, but who’s keeping track?).
Regardless, if you are a lover of stirred, boozy drinks, the Martinez should absolutely be in your cocktail rotation. Despite its relation to the Martini, it stands on its own as one of the premier classic cocktails.
2 oz aged old tom gin
1 oz sweet vermouth
dash Angostura bitters
dash orange bitters
lemon peel for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a chilled mixing glass. Fill with ice, stir for 18-25 seconds, then strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish with an expressed lemon peel (an orange peel is nice too).
If you make a Martinez, let me see! Tag a photo with #socialhourcocktails on Instagram.
Since the Martini is pretty much a variation on the Martinez you could argue that every subsequent Martini variation on it is really a Martinez variation. So for more drinks like this check out the 15 listed on the Martini page. Particularly the Fourth Degree, Hearst and Tom’s Perfect Martini (guess which one I created).
Different Versions - So Many Possibilities
Since it’s been around for so long, there several recipes for the Martinez out there. My version here is similar to the one we use at Clover Club, which reflects the typical proportions of a contemporary Martini or Manhattan. But many bars use equals parts gin and sweet vermouth, which mirrors the first Martinez recipe, appearing in O.H. Byron’s 1884 “Modern Bartenders Guide”, it also uses curaçao, not maraschino. Then there’s Jerry Thomas’ 1887 version, which puts the vermouth in the driver’s seat with 2 ounces and only 1 ounce of gin, rendering a completely different, but still very tasty drink.
So given these options, plus my assertion that you can use any kind of gin you want - London dry, old tom, aged, genever, new western, whatever - there are lot of ways a Martinez can come out. In that way, it’s not unlike the Martini, a drink that can take many forms. However, unlike the Martini, I’ve enjoyed pretty much all every Martinez I’ve had no matter how contrasting they've been (excluding for the time someone gave me a Dirty Martinez). So follow your instincts and do what feels, and tastes, right.
From Martinez to Martini and Back
The Martinez is a quintessential example of what early Martini recipes looked like when they emerged in the 1880s, which universally used old tom gin or genever - gin’s maltier dutch ancestor - and sweet vermouth. But by the 1930s, these styles of gin had fallen out of fashion and the crisp London dry style gins that we are familiar with today were used exclusively in Martinis. Dry vermouth had also risen to prominence which pairs wonderfully with dry gin, as we know, but poorly with old tom and genever. Thus, the Martinez cocktail largely disappeared for most of the 20th century. Or you could say it simply evolved into the Martini. The Martinez was the dinosaur, and the Martini its avian descendant.
But after being excavated and revived by the forces that generated the current cocktail revival we are now in, the Martinez has re-emerged as a stand-alone cocktail apart from the Martini, and is now a mainstay of the modern bartender’s the classic cocktail lexicon. Rightfully so.