Drink of the Week: Martinez

Rhode Island recently started (finally) getting in bottles of Ransom Old Tom Gin; having heard so much about it over the last two years or so, I had to buy a bottle and try it.

The only other Old Tom I’ve had is Hayman’s, and I have to say, these are very different products. Both are excellent in quality and great in flavor, but the Ransom has a maltiness to it that makes it stand out just a bit. I suspect each Tom will shine brightly in specific cocktails, so I can see both of them having a place on my bar.

A cocktail in which the Ransom excels is the Martinez, the martini precursor that uses gin, sweet vermouth, bitters, and sometimes either curacao or maraschino. Historically, the Martinez calls for equal parts gin and vermouth. I like them prepared that way, but I prefer a little more gin in mine.

Here’s my recipe:

Martinez

  • 2 oz. Ransom Old Tom Gin
  • 1 oz. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • lemon twist

Stir all ingredients except for lemon twist in an ice-filled mixing glass. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over drink and discard.

Photograph © Jennifer Hess

7 thoughts on “Drink of the Week: Martinez

  1. With these proportions and the lack of liqueur this seems more like a Turf Club than a Martinez. A Martinez to me should be vermouth heavy and complex, while the Turf Club is drier and more ginny, like your recipe above.

    1. In Imbibe, Wondrich has a Turf Club that’s 50/50, with Tom, Italian, and Peruvian bitters. He has a Martinez that’s 1 oz Tom, 2 oz Italian, Maraschino, and Boker’s. Finally, a Fourth Degree that’s 1 oz. Italian, 2 oz. gin, and a dash of absinthe. According to this, neither of us is right.

      Harry Craddock and Robert Vermiere apparently both called for French vermouth in a Martinez. Weird.

      Anyway, I still prefer my Whateveryoucallit to be a bit drier than a 50/50 cocktail. Thanks for your comments.

  2. I agree, I too tend to like dryer drinks, but I don’t think the Martinez was intended to be a dry drink. At the most dry it is 50/50 and I think it is the maraschino/curacao that makes it what it is. While the Absinthe is what makes the Fourth Degree. In the world of the ‘cock-tail’, or bittered sling, slight variances make big changes.

    Whenever I stray very far from a classic recipe, I check to see if there is already a cocktail more fitting, and if not, I be sure to give it a new name. One thing the cocktail renaissance is trying to achieve is a basic uniformity across the globe. Cocktails should pretty much have the same flavor profiles from bar to bar with only slight variance based on bartenders ‘love’.

    I do however enjoy your recipe quite a bit.

  3. This looks fantastic. I have just begun to make cocktails at home (and to be more adventurous when ordering at bars), and this looks right up my alley. Plus, I love gin! Will attempt chez moi soon.

  4. I’ve got to agree that this is really not a Martinez. I’ll disagree with John Ueding and say that what we are trying to achieve is not cocktail uniformity , but must agree with his later point that a cocktail must have the same flavor profile to fit under the same name. For a Martinez this absolutely means including Maraschino in the mix. Additionally, while uniformity is not the goal a Martinez is not meant to be a dry drink, and yours is heading in that direction. Your drink seems to be midway between the true Martinez (a complex somewhat sweet drink that incorporates the flavors of gin, orange bitters, and maraschino into the base flavor of a good sweet vermouth) and the modern martini (A cold glass of gin or vodka). I suppose if you added maraschino the base flavor profile would be the same and you could call the drink a dry(er) Martinez, but in the end this drink satisfies on neither account so should be given new name. The drink as presented may be wonderful but it is not a Martinez.

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