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. Read on for the full story and then follow our easy Martinez cocktail recipe and craft one at home in just five minutes.
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?
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
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.
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 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.
Martinez Cocktail Ingredients
The Martinez is a serious cocktail as evidenced by the following list of its high-octane ingredients:
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.
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.
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.
How To Craft a Martinez Cocktail
We’d like to tell you that the Martinez is difficult to craft but then we’d be lying. Our recipe only has four steps – measuring, pouring, stirring and straining. Accordingly, we recommend the following tools to craft this cocktail:
While you don’t NEED any of these tools, you will WANT them to make your mixology session seamless. You probably have one or more, if not all, of them already.
Discover 10 necessary bar tools for lazy mixologists.
The first step in crafting a Martinez is to measure the gin, sweet vermouth and maraschino liqueur. We like to use a Japanese jigger but any jigger will suffice. You could also use a small angled measuring cup if you don’t have a jigger.
Buy a Japanese jigger if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
The second step is to pour the four liquors into a mixing glass. We like to use the bottom of our Boston Shaker since it’s airtight and easy to use.
Text third step is to add two dashes of Angostura bitters.
The fourth step is to add ice and stir with a bar spoon until the liquors are combined and chilled.
The final step is to strain the amber cocktail into a martini glass.
You could also use a coupe glass. Your cocktail will taste great regardless of the type of cocktail glass that you use.
Martinez Cocktail Alternatives
If you’re feeling creative or want to stretch your mixology muscles, try the following Martinez cocktail alternatives:
Martinez Cocktail FAQs
The Martinez is a classic pre-prohibition cocktail crafted with gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Angostura bitters.
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.
The Martinez cocktail’s history is a mystery. While we can guess that its inventor was named Martinez, nobody knows for sure.
Dry Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur, Angostura Bitters, Orange Peel (garnish) and Ice
The Martinez is shaken, not stirred.
We like to serve this cocktail in a small martini glass but you could use a coupe glass instead.
Martinez Cocktail 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.
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
- 1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- orange twist for garnish
- ice cubes
- 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.
- You can use a martini glass if you don't have a coupe glass.
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Japanese Jigger - Premium Double Cocktail Jigger, 1oz/2oz made from Stainless Steel 304
Hiware Professional 24 Oz Cocktail Mixing Glass, Thick Bottom Seamless Crystal Mixing Glass
Hiware LZS13B 12 Inches Stainless Steel Mixing Spoon, Spiral Pattern Bar Cocktail Shaker Spoon
OXO SteeL Cocktail Strainer
Riedel Veritas Coupe Glasses, Set of 2, Clear
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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 and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: April 20, 2021
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.
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.