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Martinez Cocktail

You probably aren’t familiar with the Martinez unless you’re either a cocktail connoisseur or a history buff. But once you try this classic gin drink, you’ll surely be a fan. Discover its story and then follow our easy Martinez cocktail recipe and craft one at home in just five minutes.

Martinez Cocktail Next to Colored Tiles

Our journey into lazy mixology has motivated us to craft a myriad of cocktails that we’d previously imbibed at bars. The Martinez was not one of those cocktails.

To be honest, we had never heard of the drink until our sweet obsession with Luxardo maraschino cherries motivated us to buy a bottle of Luxardo maraschino liqueur. The liqueur’s deep flavors piqued our curiosity to find Luxardo-based tipples. It wasn’t long until we read about the Martinez – a cocktail that allegedly inspired the Manhattan and has elements reminiscent of Italy’s Negroni.

It wasn’t much longer until we crafted a Martinez at home in just five minutes, which left us with one question: Why isn’t the Martinez cocktail more popular?

What Is The Martinez Cocktail?

Martinez Cocktail Next to Liquor Bottles
The Martinez may be the least famous classic cocktail.

Never heard of a Martinez? Don’t feel bad. Although the classic drink is as timeless as a Manhattan or Martini, it has flown under the radar for decades if not longer. But what is it?

The Martinez is a sophisticated cocktail heavyweight that features no less that four alcoholic ingredients – gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Angostura bitters. It’s also a member of the classic cocktail centenarian club along with the Mint Julep, Old Fashioned and Sazerac.

History Of The Martinez Cocktail

Martinez Cocktail on Ledge
Don’t count out the Martinez despite its lack of notoriety. It’s a serious cocktail that checks all the classic cocktail boxes.

If you’re thinking that the Martinez and the Gin Martini have some similarities, you’re not mistaken. Aside from starting with the same six letters, both cocktails feature gin and vermouth.

You might also think that the Martini inspired the Martinez since it’s by far the more popular of the two drinks and has achieved cocktail icon status. However, in this regard, you would be wrong.

Martinez Cocktail Next to White Tiles
Many consider the Martinez to the be the cocktail that inspired the Martini.

Research reveals that the Martinez was invented in the late 19th century and predates the Martini by decades. In fact, the Martinez, originally crafted with Old Tom gin, very well may have inspired the Martini’s creation. The two Pre-Prohibition gin drinks are that similar.

As often happens with cocktail history, things get fuzzier in terms of who deserves credit for inventing the Martinez. One legend credits the creation to a California bartender named Martinez while another asserts that the name came from its possible birthplace in a Martinez, California.

Discover more of our favorite Pre-Prohibition cocktails.

Ingredients

Martinez Cocktail Ingredients
The Martinez recipe only requires a handful of ingredients – sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, gin, Angostura bitters and an orange twist. You’ll also need ice for the mixing step.

The Martinez is a serious cocktail as evidenced by the following list of its high-octane ingredients:

  • Dry Gin
  • Sweet Vermouth
  • Maraschino Liqueur
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Orange Peel (garnish)
  • Ice Cubes (for stirring)

You’ll notice that there aren’t any mixers in this cocktail. Don’t worry. You won’t miss mixers once you taste your first sip.

Martinez Cocktail Liquor Bottles
Gin, maraschino liqueur, Angostura bitters and sweet vermouth are the Martinez’s four liquor ingredients.

You probably have three of the necessary Martinez liquors – dry gin, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters – in your bar. We use French gin, Italian vermouth and Angostura Bitters to quickly craft Martinez cocktails at home. However, you can get creative based on the liquor brands that you love and have on hand.

Discover our favorite gin cocktails and our favorite sweet vermouth cocktails.

The fourth liquor, maraschino liqueur, is the outlier and a bit more obscure. However, you won’t regret buying a bottle since it’s also an ingredient in cocktails like the Aviation and Hemingway Daiquiri. At least that’s what happened to us after we special-ordered a bottle of Luxardo maraschino liqueur at a local Lisbon liqueur shop.

Discover our favorite maraschino liqueur cocktails.

How To Craft A Martinez Cocktail

Items for Crafting a Martinez Cocktail
Crafting a Martinez takes five minutes once you assemble the necessary ingredients and bar tools.

The first step in crafting a Martinez is to measure the gin, sweet vermouth and maraschino liqueur. We use a Japanese jigger but any jigger will suffice. For example, you could use a small angled measuring cup if you don’t have a jigger.

Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.

Measuring Gin for Martinez Cocktail
We like to measure our liquors with a Japanese jigger to ensure accuracy and avoid spillage.

The second step is to pour the four liquors into a mixing glass. Another option is to use the bottom of our Boston Shaker since it’s airtight and easy to use.

Crafting a Martinez Cocktail
We poured each liquor into our shaker as we measured them.

Text third step is to add two dashes of Angostura bitters.

Dashing Bitters into Martinez Cocktail
We dashed the Angostura bitters directly into the shaker before we added two handfuls of ice.

The fourth step is to add ice and stir with a bar spoon until the liquors are combined and chilled.

Stirring Martinez Cocktail
Mixing the Martinez took us a total of 20 seconds.

The final step is to strain the amber cocktail into a martini glass.

Straining Martinez Cocktail
The color coordination of Mind’s ring and the Martinez cocktail was a happy accident.

You could also use a coupe glass. Your cocktail will taste great regardless of the type of cocktail glass that you use.

Variations

Martinez Cocktail Next to Flowers
Drinking this Martinez was our reward for crafting the classic cocktail.

If you’re feeling creative or want to stretch your mixology muscles, try the following Martinez cocktail alternatives:

  • Replace the gin with Old Tom gin to recreate the original Martinez recipe.
  • Replace the gin with rum to craft a Rum Martinez cocktail.
  • Replace the gin with mezcal to craft a Mezcal Martinez cocktail.
  • Replace the sweet vermouth with dry vermouth and omit the maraschino liqueur to craft a gin Martini.
  • Replace the gin with bourbon and the maraschino liqueur with maraschino cherries to craft a Manhattan.

Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Martinez Cocktail?

The Martinez is a classic pre-prohibition cocktail crafted with gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Angostura bitters.

What’s the difference between a Martini and a Martinez?

The Martini and Martinez are almost identical. The difference is that the Martini is crafted with dry vermouth while the Martinez is crafted with sweet vermouth.

Who invented the Martinez?

The Martinez cocktail’s history is a mystery. While we can guess that its inventor was named Martinez, nobody knows for sure.

What are the ingredients in a Martinez?

Dry Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur, Angostura Bitters, Orange Peel (garnish) and Ice

Is the Martinez shaken or stirred?

The Martinez is shaken, not stirred.

What type of glass is best for the Martinez?

We like to serve this cocktail in a small martini glass but you could use a coupe glass instead.

Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.

Martinez Cocktail Next to White Tiles
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Martinez Recipe

Don't underestimate the Martinez cocktail. This under-the-radar classic cocktail is as tasty as a Martini, Manhattan or Negroni. Maybe even tastier.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Drink
Cuisine: Cocktail
Servings: 1
Calories: 197kcal

Ingredients

  • ounces gin
  • ounces sweet vermouth
  • ¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • orange peel (garnish)
  • ice cubes (for shaking)

Instructions

  • Pour gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and bitters into a mixing glass.
  • Add ice and stir until ingredients are mixed and chilled.
  • Strain into a coupe glass.
  • Express the orange peel by twisting it over the glass and rubbing it along the rim. Then drop it into the glass as garnish.

Notes

  • You can use a martini glass if you don’t have a coupe glass.

Estimated Nutrition

Calories: 197kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 0.2g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 42mg | Sugar: 6g | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 0.2mg
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About The Authors

About The Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.

Disclosures

Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

Funding
We purchased the ingredients and tools used to craft this cocktail.

Original Publication Date: April 20, 2021

Recipe Rating




Jim Wood

Thursday 22nd of December 2022

Make it how you like it, and in my bar it’s made with Old Tom Gin, Antica vermouth, Luxardo, and Bookers bitters. Stir with hard frozen ice and serve up with an expressed lemon peel wrapped around a luxardo cherry.

Thomas Pitchon

Sunday 16th of January 2022

Did you know that the Martinez was named after the town of Martinez located at the mouth of the San Francisco bay to the Sacramento Delta? Mark Twain made mention of the the drink. It is a classic of San Francisco and you need look no further than the Absinthe Bar cocktail book from the the early 2000s. Johnny’s recipe is the absolute best!

2 Oz. Gin 1 Oz. Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat) Splash of Luxardo Dash of Orange Bitters Lemon Twist Olive

The olive and orange twist are amazing together in this drink. Because it is a San Francisco Bay Area native, I recommend the St. George spirits Terroir Gin as it contains local botanicals from Mount Tamalpais in Marin - Mill Valley.

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