Drinks

The Martini Cocktail: Deconstructing a Classic. Part 4: The Martinez Cocktail

The first recipe for a Martinez cocktail was published at the same time as the Manhattan cocktail in 1884, stating that a Martinez cocktail was a Manhattan cocktail in which the whiskey was to be replaced by gin. If one also takes into account that whiskey was far more popular than gin and was the “older” spirit, one may assume that the Martinez Cocktail (like the Rob Roy with Scotch) is a further development of the Manhattan Cocktail, which in turn developed from the Vermouth Cocktail.

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

The question now arises whether the previously given definition of a Manhattan cocktail can really be transferred to a Martinez cocktail without restriction. A look at the recipes from the times before Prohibition helps to answer this question. Those recipes where instead of a recipe there is only a reference to a Manhattan cocktail with the hint to use gin are marked with a * in the following.

Which Gin?

Regarding the gin to be used in the historical recipes, the question inevitably arises which gin is meant. If simply “gin” was specified, what did the authors mean? An Old Tom gin? A Holland gin? David Wondrich writes in Imbibe! 2007 that there is no evidence that unsweetened English-style gin was even available in America before the 1890s. Instead, Dutch gin (genever) was predominantly used, or sweetened (English) Old Tom gin, which was only available in small quantities. [1]

But what else could Byron have meant in 1884 when he listed “gin” in his book alongside “Old Tom Gin” and “Holland Gin”, if not an English dry gin? The fact that it is used together with French vermouth suggests that he really meant a “dry gin”, because, as David Wondrich and Gaz Regan point out, genever cannot be combined satisfactorily with French vermouth – one of the reasons why genever became less and less important as drier cocktails became more popular. [2] So Byron can’t have had a genever in mind. The alternative would be an Old Tom Gin. But he explicitly calls for this in other recipes – so the only alternative is a dry gin. In any case, David Wondrich reports in Mixology 1/2009 that English gin was already being imported into New York harbour in the 1850s, with an average of 9,000 three-quarter litre bottles of Old Tom gin per year compared to 3.3 million bottles of Dutch gin. By April 1871, on the other hand, only nine times as much Dutch gin was landed as English gin. There, too, he writes that Plymouth and London Dry Gin did not appear on the American market until the 1890s, and it was not until 1899 that more English than Dutch gin was imported for the first time [3]. But I have my doubts. Why shouldn’t Plymouth or London Dry Gins have been among the English imports? Byron’s book certainly speaks for it.

The same conclusion can be drawn from the other books. For example, the authors who describe a Sweet Plain Martinez cocktail are highlighted here: It is true that Golfrin (1911) only knows gin and Maloney (1900) only gin and Holland gin. Byron (1884), on the other hand, distinguishes between gin, Holland gin and Old Tom gin. Larsen (1899) uses gin, Holland gin, Old Tom gin, Old London gin. Lawlor (1895), Lowe (1904), Stuart (1904), Considine (1912) and Mahoney (1914) use gin, Holland gin, Old Tom gin, Plymouth gin.

So, as one may assume, when simply talking about a “gin”, a dry gin is probably meant; otherwise, the authors usually explicitly state Old Tom Gin, Holland Gin or Plymouth Gin.

Which vermouth?

Another short digression is devoted to vermouth: it may be surprising that Byron uses a French vermouth and not an Italian vermouth in 1884; commonly one would want to assume that a dry French vermouth was exported to the USA only in later times, when the drier drinks – and with them the dry vermouth – became more popular; however, a shipment of French vermouth to the USA is documented for New Orleans as early as 1851. [4].

Sweet Plain Martinez Cocktail

[1884 Byron: The Modern Bartenders‘ Guide]*
1 pony [30 ml] French vermouth / 1/2 pony [15 ml] Gin / 3-4 d Angostura bitters / 3 d sugar syrup. (Martinez Cocktail, No. 1)

[1895 Lawlor: The Mixicologist]
1/2 jigger [30 ml] vermouth / 1/2 jigger [30 ml] Old Tom gin / 2 d orange bitters / 1 d sugar syrup. Garnish: cherry. (Martinez Cocktail)

[1899 Larsen: Les Boissons Américaines]
1/2 Madeira glass [30 ml] French vermouth / 1/3 Madeira glass [20 ml] gin / 6 drops Angostura bitters / 2 coffeespoon [10 ml] sugar syrup. (Martinez Cocktail)

[1900 Maloney: The 20th Century Guide For Mixing Fancy Drinks]*
1/2 wine-glass [30 ml] vermouth / 1/2 wine-glass [30 ml] gin / 1-2 d orange bitters, 1-2 d Peychaud‘s bitters / 1 Teelöffel [5 ml] sugar syrup. lemon zest (stirred). (Martinez Cocktail)

[1904 Lowe: Drinks As They Are Mixed]*
1/2 jigger [30 ml] vermouth / 1/2 jigger [30 ml] gin / 1 d Angostura bitters / 1/2 barspoon [2,5 ml] sugar syrup / lemon zest (stirred) (Martinez Cocktail)

[1904 Stuart: Stuart’s Fancy Drinks]*
1 pony [30 ml] French vermouth / 1/2 pony [15 ml] gin / 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters / 3 d sugar syrup. (Martinez Cocktail No. 1)

[1911 Doménech: El Arte del Cocktelero Europeo]
1/2 Madeira glass [30 ml] [French] Noilly vermouth / 1/3 Madeira glass [20 ml] Cognac [sic!] / 6 drops Angostura bitters / 2 teaspoons [10 ml] sugar syrup. (Martínez Cocktail)

[1911 Golfrin: Manual del Cantinero]
1/2 medium-sized glass [30 ml] vermouth / 1/3 medium-sized glass Glas [20 ml] gin / 6 drops Angostura bitters, 2 teaspoons [10 ml] sugar syrup. (Martinez Cocktail)

[1912 Considine: The Buffet Blue Book]*
1/2 jigger [30 ml] vermouth / 1/2 jigger [30 ml] gin / 1 d Abbott‘s bitters, 1 d orange bitters / 1 d sugar syrup / lemon zest (stirred). (Martinez Cocktail)

[1914 Mahoney: New Bartender’s Guide]*
1/2 wine-glass [30 ml] vermouth / 1/2 wine-glass [30 ml] gin / 3 d Angostura bitters / 2 d sugar syrup. Garnish: lemon zest. (Manhattan Cocktail)

Conclusion: A Sweet Plain Martinez Cocktail consists of vermouth and gin. Italian vermouth is predominantly used, frequently also French. Predominantly (Dry) Gin is used, rarely Old Tom Gin. Very often vermouth and gin are used in the same proportion, frequently the vermouth is present in one and a half times the amount, sometimes in double the amount. Sugar syrup and bitters are also used. Angostura Bitters are predominantly used, rarely Abbott’s Bitters, Orange Bitters, Peychaud’s Bitters or Caroni Bitters. A lemon zest is frequently stirred in. Sometimes it is garnished, then with lemon zest or cherry.

Sweet Plain Martinez Cocktail = vermouth + Dry Gin + bitters + sugar syrup (+ stirred lemon zest) (+ garnish: lemon zest, cherry)

Sweet Fancy Martinez Cocktail

[1887 Thomas: The Bar-Tender’s Guide]
1 wine-glass [60 ml] vermouth / 1 pony [30 ml] Old Tom Gin / 1 d Boker‘s bitters / 2 d sugar syrup / 2 d maraschino. Garnish: 1/4 lemon zest. (Martinez Cocktail)

[1888 Lamore: The Bartender]
1 wine-glass [60 ml] vermouth / 1 pony [30 ml] Old Tom Gin / 1 d Boker’s bitters / 2 d sugar syrup / 2 d maraschino. Garnish: 1/4 lemon wheel. (Martinez Cocktail)

[1912 Paul: American and Other Iced Drinks]
1 wine-glass [60 ml] vermouth / 1 pony [30 ml] Old Tom Gin / 1 d Boker‘s bitters / 2 d sugar syrup / 2 d maraschino. Garnish: lemon wheel. (Martinez Cocktail)

Conclusion: A Sweet Fancy Martinez cocktail consists of Italian vermouth and Old Tom gin. The vermouth content is doubled compared to the Old Tom Gin. Sugar syrup and Boker’s Bitters are added, and Maraschino makes it fancy. It is garnished with a slice of lemon.

Sweet Fancy Martinez Cocktail = Italian vermouth + Old Tom Gin + bitters + sugar syrup + maraschino + Garnish: lemon wheel.

Dry Fancy Martinez Cocktail

[1884 Byron: The Modern Bartenders‘ Guide]*
1/2 wine-glass [30 ml] Italian vermouth / 1/2 wine-glass [30 ml] gin / 2 d Angostura bitters / 2 d curaçao. (Martinez Cocktail, No. 2)

[1887 Thomas: The Bar-Tender’s Guide]
1 wine-glass [60 ml] vermouth / 1 pony [30 ml] Old Tom Gin / 1 d Boker‘s bitters / 2 d maraschino. Garnish: 1/4 lemon wheel. (Martinez Cocktail)

[1888 Lamore: The Bartender]
1 wine-glass [60 ml] vermouth / 1 pony [30 ml] Old Tom Gin / 1 d Boker’s bitters / 2 d maraschino. Garnish: 1/4 lemon wheel. (Martinez Cocktail)

[1904 Stuart: Stuart’s Fancy Drinks]*
1/2 wine-glass [30 ml] Italian vermouth / 1/2 wine-glass [30 ml] gin / 2 d Angostura bitters / 2 d curaçao. (Martinez Cocktail No. 2)

[1912 Paul: American and Other Iced Drinks]
1 wine-glass [60 ml] vermouth / 1 pony [30 ml] Old Tom Gin / 1 d Boker‘s bitters / 2 d maraschino. Garnish: lemon wheel. (Martinez Cocktail)

Conclusion: A Dry Fancy Martinez Cocktail consists of Italian vermouth and Old Tom or Dry Gin, with Old Tom Gin predominating. The vermouth portion is preferably doubled, otherwise it is in the same proportion as the gin. Boker’s Bitters or Angostura Bitters are added, with Boker’s Bitters being preferred. The Martinez cocktail is made fancy by adding Maraschino or Curaçao, with Maraschino being used more often. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Dry Fancy Martinez Cocktail = Italian Wermut + Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin + bitters + maraschino, curaçao + Garnish: lemon wheel

Summary

Eight recipes only stated that the Martinez cocktail was a Manhattan cocktail with whiskey replaced by gin. Nine recipes do not give this indication and instead give a stand-alone recipe. We have noticed:

Sweet Plain Martinez Cocktail

Vermouth + Dry Gin + bitters + sugar syrup (+ stirred lemon zest) (+ garnish: lemon zest, cherry)

Sweet Fancy Martinez Cocktail

Italian vermouth + Old Tom Gin + bitters + sugar syrup + maraschino + garnish: lemon wheel.

Dry Fancy Martinez Cocktail

Italian vermouth + Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin + bitters + maraschino, curaçao + garnish: lemon wheel

Looking at all the recipes together, we can generally conclude: A Martinez cocktail consists of vermouth and gin. Italian vermouth is predominantly used, sometimes also French. The gin used is very often Old Tom Gin or Dry Gin, with Dry Gin being preferred. In older recipes in particular, the proportion of vermouth is doubled, otherwise vermouth and gin are in equal proportions. Bitters are also added. Very often these are Angostura Bitters, frequently Boker’s Bitters, occasionally other bitters. For a Sweet Martinez cocktail, sugar syrup is added, for a Fancy Martinez cocktail mainly Maraschino, sometimes Curaçao. Occasionally, a lemon zest is stirred in. The garnish is very often a slice of lemon, rarely a lemon zest or cherry.

Martinez Cocktail

Vermouth + Dry Gin, Old Tom Gin + bitters (+ sugar syrup) (+ maraschino, curaçao) (+ stirred lemon zest) (+ garnish: lemon wheel, lemon zest, cherry)

This definition is pretty much the same as the one derived earlier for a Manhattan cocktail:

Manhattan Cocktail

Vermouth + whiskey + bitters (+ sugar syrup) (+ curaçao, maraschino, absinthe) (+ stirred lemon zest) (+ garnish: lemon zest, cherry, olive)

The only difference is that for a Martinez cocktail, no absinthe or olive is mentioned, but the option of garnishing with a slice of lemon is given.

Unlike the Manhattan variants, the Martinez Cocktail does not have any explicitly stated (or derived) Dry Plain or Extra Dry variants. The Martinez Cocktail thus seems to be more on the sweet side.

In the next post, we will look at the Great Mystery of how Martinez Cocktail and Martini Cocktail relate to each other.

Sources
  1. David Wondrich: Imbibe! From Absinthe Cocktail to WHiskey Smash, A Salute in Stories and Drinks to „Professor“ Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar. ISBN 978-0-399-53287-0. New York, 2007. Page 58-59.
  2. Gaz Regan: The Bartender’s Gin Compendium. ISBN 978-1-4415-4688-3. Ohne Ort, 2009. Seite 31.
  3. David Wondrich: Der Ursprüngliche Cocktail-Gin. Mixology 1/2009, Page 68-70.
  4. Lowell Edmunds: Martini, Straight Up. Revised Edition. ISBN 0-8018-5971-9. Baltimore, 1998. Page 78.
Further reading
  1. Anistatia Miller & Jarred Brown: Spirituous Journey. A History of Drink. Book Two: From Publicans to Master Mixologists. ISBN 978-1-907434-06-8. London, Mixelany, 2009.

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About

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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