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The Martinez

Today and tomorrow in Cocktail Culture I bring youa not so brief, inebriated history of the Martinez here is the first recipe and part.

Thought to be the ‘Father’ of the Martini, or at least acknowledged to have had a huge amount of influence on it, the Martinez’s origins belong in a cloudy haze of uncertainty.

It most likely started life sometime in the 1860’s or 70’s, but is first known to have been published in O.H. Byron’s The Modern Bartender, in 1884. Byron’s succinct summary of the Martinez states that it is the “same as Manhattan, only you substitute the gin for whisky.” The difficulty in this very simple statement is that he gives two versions of the Manhattan and no suggestion of which the Martinez is to follow; both a dry and sweet Manhattan were recorded. In the years since, this has added greatly to the confusion.

The sweet version was the one that was followed throughout the 1880’s but as an appetite for drier drinks became ubiquitous by the 1920s, the alternative that Byron suggested was used instead.

This also coincides with the availability of such ingredients that were necessary in order to make the latter, and the ban on drinking alcohol in America. This led many American natives to European shores, including some of the best bartenders in America, who thus became influenced by a European taste and style, which is distinctively drier.

Robert Vermier’s, Cocktails: How To Mix Them, verifies this change, presenting a drier Martinez than previous recordings. It is not that dissimilar to Harry Craddock’s version. ‘The Savoy Cocktail Book’ affirms this type of change to Dry French vermouth, further establishing it as a dry gin cocktail.

Even though the dry version was published by different authors more times than the sweet version – Today, the dry vermouth based Martinez is almost never the one that is usually produced when ordered at a bar.

A few possible origin stories for the Martinez –

The Occidental Hotel in which Thomas was bartender, was a popular drinking spot and good location for a respite in-between the journey from Montgomery Street to Martinez, the route and destination from which tourists took the ferry. Based in California, the story goes that Thomas created this drink for a visitor bound to Martinez, which he subsequently named the cocktail after. However Thomas had not published the Martinez in his edition of this cocktail guide dated to 1862, only writing about it in his 1887 version, circulated two years after his death.

Indeed, the people of Martinez claim that the namesake Martinez cocktail was first produced in their town. There is even a plaque proudly hung up that commemorates it’s creation, possibly done so in an effort to protect and certify their story. If this was to be true, then Julio Richelieu’s story could be valid. In about 1870, Richelieu served a customer in his town of Martinez, with a gin and vermouth drink, popped a pickled fruit in and thus created the star of this legacy. Whether this is the real history behind such an iconic drink will always remain a mystery.

Either way, it is commonly believed (by cocktail historians and educated barkeeps) that the Martini and Martinez are related, but it seems we will never be certain.

Old School Recipe:

  • 50ml Genever

  • 30ml Sweet Vermouth

  • 10ml Dry Vermouth

  • 8ml Orange Curaçao Liqueur

  • 1 dash of Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker, filled halfway with ice. Stir. Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Modern Recipe:

  • 50ml Bathtub Old Tom Gin

  • 20ml Sweet Vermouth

  • 10ml Dry Vermouth

  • 5ml Marachino Liqueur

  • 1 dash of Bokers Bitters

Add all of the ingredients to a cocktail shaker, filled halfway with ice. Stir Strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Cheers! 💀☠

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