Martinez

Martinez Cocktail in a Nick & Nora glass

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass.

The Martinez likely emerged in the 1870s as a variation on the Manhattan. Indeed, the first we hear of it in print, in 1884, the instructions are: "Same as a Manhattan, only you substitute gin for whisky." The gin would most likely have been Dutch genever or English old tom since London Dry gin was not widely available in America until the 1890s. By a similar argument, the vermouth was probably the sweet Italian rather than the dry French as it was much more available at the time. We do know, from an 1887 recipe, that the drink started with twice as much vermouth as gin.

As London Dry Gin became more widely available the drink slowly transformed into the modern Dry Martini. Perhaps the use of drier gin prompted the switch to dry French vermouth. Then the amount of vermouth used in the cocktail began its long slow decline until we get to Churchill whose Martini recipe was said to be, "Glance at the vermouth bottle while pouring the gin freely." I agree with Difford's assessment, "A great man but not necessarily a great drink."

I have tried the Martinez made with Dutch genever and also with old tom gin both using Carpano Antica vermouth. I'll happily leave those recipes to the history books. However, I came across the above recipe, called Martinez by Perrone, in Gary Regan's book. He calls it the very best Martinez he has ever tasted, made for him by the Italian bartender Ago Perrone. It is almost the 2-to-1 vermouth to gin ratio of the original but the use of Punt e Mes as the vermouth takes the sweetness down a notch with more of a bittersweet note. The vermouth still comes across very strongly so perhaps some further adjustment to modern tastes is in order.