The Martinez Cocktail Recipe

The Classic Martinez Cocktail
Older than the Martini, the Martinez is a fantastic gin and sweet vermouth cocktail that adds a little maraschino to the mix and it is one that you must try. Photo: S&C Design Studios
    3 mins
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The Martinez is a cocktail that any classic drink connoisseur will definitely want to note. Who knows, it may even become a new favorite!

This is one of the predecessors to the classic Gin Martini. It is very similar though a just a little bit different, so it can easily shake up any cocktail routine you may find yourself in.

In the Martinez, a hint of sweetness is added to the gin-vermouth combination. It opts for sweet vermouth over dry and brings in just a hint of maraschino liqueur. The result is a smooth and uplifting drink that is perfect any time of day.

What You'll Need

How to Make It

  1. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Twist the lemon peel over the drink and drop it into the glass.

Variations on the Martinez Cocktail

Just as the Martini has many recipes, the Martinez can be made in a variety of ways:

  • Some recipes use dry vermouth and/or Cointreau or triple sec (instead of maraschino).
  • Original recipes, such as those printed in Jerry Thomas' bartending guides from the late 1800's, use maraschino.
  • To be a traditionalist, use Old Tom Gin like that produced by Hayman's.
  • Thomas' original recipe also calls for 2 parts vermouth to just one part gin. Notice that this is opposite of the recipe above.
  • The classic Emerson cocktail is very similar. To make it, shake 2 ounces gin, 1 ounce sweet vermouth, and 1/2 ounce each lemon juice and maraschino.

However you take it, the Martinez is one of the best classic cocktails around. It is one of those easy drinks that you can make your own with just a few tweaks.

How Strong is the Martinez?

As you might imagine with a cocktail made entirely of liquor, the Martinez is not a low-proof cocktail. Drinks of this style never are.

With the recipe above, let's use a 30-proof vermouth, 80-proof gin,  and 64-proof maraschino. In this example, we can estimate that the Martinez has an alcohol content of about 31% ABV (62 proof). That is not a light cocktail, so take it easy!

The Martinez: The "Father" of the Martini

We cannot have a discussion about the history of the Martini without speaking of the Martinez. The big question is: Which came first, the Martini or the Martinez? The answer is quite simple: the Martinez.

It is widely accepted that the Martinez had a direct influence on the creation of the Martini. A few accounts of the Martini's origin refer to Martinez, California ​where, I am told, a plaque still marks the occasion. This town had an obvious and direct influence on naming the Martinez cocktail.

The Martinez recipe is old. We know that because it was first printed in the 1887 edition of The Bon Vivant's Companion: Or How to Mix Drinks  by Professor Jerry Thomas. It is Thomas who is credited with creating this sweet drink while working in California for a patron traveling to (where else?) Martinez.

According to The Joy of Mixology by Gary (Gaz) Regan, Thomas' Martinez was heavy on vermouth, light on the gin and called for Boker's bitters, which is no longer available (Angostura is a great substitute). Add a little maraschino and a lemon twist and you have a great, often overlooked, sweetened gin cocktail.

In his book, Regan refers to the Martinez as "born of the Manhattan...and is the father, or perhaps grandfather, of the Dry Gin Martini."

This statement would allude to the possibility that the Manhattan begat the Martinez, which begat the Martini. The Martini just happened to have emerged as the most popular of the three.

Cocktail origins are always a little hazy and have some mystery, so we may never be absolutely sure. However, today's cocktail historians are very good at deciphering and decoding the past and it is a good chance that they are correct on this one.