The Martini Cocktail: Deconstructing a Classic. Part 2: The Vermouth Cocktail

In order to better understand the origins of the Martini Cocktail, one must take a closer look at the history of vermouth as a cocktail ingredient. The first and only cocktail to use vermouth, published in recipe books before the Manhattan Cocktail, is the Vermouth Cocktail.

Due to its size, this paper on the Martini Cocktail will be published in several parts, as follows:

The Vermouth Cocktail was first published by Haney in 1869:

Vermuth Cocktail (Haney 1869)

1 wine glass of vermuth; one very small piece of ice; one small piece of lemon peel; Serve in a thin stemmed wine glass with curved lip.

At first glance, this cocktail does not correspond to a classic cocktail, which as we know consists of spirit, sugar, water and bitters, but the vermouth combines spirit, sugar and bitters in itself. Less minimalist is the next release 1882 by Johnson:

Vermouth Cocktail (Johnson 1882)

(Use a large bar glass.) Three-quarters glass of shaved ice; 4 to 5 dashes of gum; 1 or 2 dashes of orange bitters; 2 dashes of Maraschino; 1 wine glass of vermouth; stir up well with a spoon, strain it into a cocktail glass, twist a piece of lemon peel on top, and serve.

The vermouth cocktail has become fancy with him by the addition of maraschino, and he adds sugar and bitters according to the cocktail definition. McDonough 1883 follows with

Vermouth Cocktail (McDonough 1883)

No. 10. Vermouth Cocktail. Follow the same method as in No. 9, omitting Angostura Bitters and substituting a pony-wine-glass of Vermouth Bitters for Sherry.

No. 9. Sherry Cocktail. Fill large bar glass one-third full of cracked ice, add two light dashes of Angostura Bitters, four dashes of Gum Syrup, one pony-wine-glass of Sherry Wine; stir well with bar spoon. Strain in cocktail glass.

Vermouth again takes on the role of the spirit and at the same time the bitter. The next publication is by Gibson in 1884, which follows Johnson’s 1882 recipe, but without specifying the type of bitters to be used.

Historically, the Vermouth Cocktail can be considered the predecessor of the Manhattan Cocktail. It brought vermouth into play as a cocktail ingredient for the first time. If you now add American whiskey, you have – voilà! – the Manhattan Cocktail.

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Hi, I'm Armin and in my spare time I want to promote bar culture as a blogger, freelance journalist and Bildungstrinker (you want to know what the latter is? Then check out "About us"). My focus is on researching the history of mixed drinks. If I have ever left out a source you know of, and you think it should be considered, I look forward to hearing about it from you to learn something new. English is not my first language, but I hope that the translated texts are easy to understand. If there is any incomprehensibility, please let me know so that I can improve it.

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