The Martinez Cocktail: A Classic that’s Easy to Love
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
A Martinez cocktail is part martini, part Manhattan, all sophisticated drinkability. This classic drink combines gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters into a few neat sips of amber-colored joy. Browse all our cocktails here.
Why we love this recipe
There’s something fun about a gin cocktail that presents itself as a whiskey cocktail. While we can’t know what’s in a Martinez’s mind, it sure does look like it’s trying to go undercover. We find that totally charming.
More important, this cocktail is cozy, balanced, sophisticated but approachable perfection. Like a martini and a Manhattan, it makes you feel like you’re doing something right just by sipping it. Really, what more do you need?
Martinez cocktail ingredients
Here’s what you need to make a Martinez:
- Good gin. Traditionally a Martinez is made with Old Tom style gin, which is sweeter than London Dry. I’ll be honest, I absolutely do not stock anything but London Dry, and I can’t imagine changing that. You can use your usual favorite gin for this recipe.
- Sweet (rosso) vermouth. We’re fans of Carpano Antica and Cocchi Storico.
- Maraschino liqueur. We use Luxardo.
- Angostura or orange bitters.
- An orange twist to garnish
How to make a Martinez
Here’s what you’ll do to make this pared-down classic. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post.
- Fill a mixing glass with plenty of ice.
- Pour in the gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters.
- Stir well, until the outside of the mixing glass is nice and cold.
- Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with an orange twist.
The history of the Martinez cocktail
It’s no secret that we love the murky histories of classic cocktail, and the Martinez is especially clouded in uncertainty. Cocktail books dating back to 1884 contain versions of a drink called the Martinez. It’s unclear whether it was invented in Martinez, California, or for a drinker on his way there.
What’s clear is that the Martinez is a link between older-style, sweeter classic cocktails like the Manhattan and newer-style, gin-based cocktails like the martini.
To be honest, we’ll take it. No further questions.
What gin to use for a Martinez
Traditionally, Martinez recipes call for Old Tom style gin, a sweeter and less botanical style of gin than London Dry. Many old-school cocktails were created with that style of gin in mind.
However, we’re fans of using our usual London Dry favorites (Sapphire, Tanqueray, Hendricks, Drumshanbo Gunpowder, etc.) in this and basically all other gin cocktails.
What vermouth to use in a Martinez
A Martinez wants sweet vermouth (also called red vermouth or vermouth rosso). Our favorites by far are Carpano Antica and Cocchi Storico.
Maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
Since 1821, Luxardo maraschino liqueur has been produced in Italy from sour Marasco cherries (which have virtually nothing to do with what you may think of as maraschino cherries). It’s clear, relatively dry for a liqueur, and has more pleasant, complex bitterness and almond notes (from the crushed cherry pits used to make it) than cherry flavor.
What bitters to use in a Martinez cocktail
Some Martinez recipes call for Angostura (aromatic) bitters, some call for orange bitters, and some for both. We tend to use whatever we have on hand — either aromatic or orange bitters work well in this recipe.
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
- 1/4 ounce Luxardo
- 2 dashes Angostura or orange bitters
- Orange twist to garnish
- Fill a mixing glass halfway with ice.
- Pour in gin, vermouth, Luxardo, and bitters.
- Mix until well-chilled.
- Pour into a coupe glass, garnish with an orange twist, and serve.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.