Drink of the Week: The Martinez (Revisited)


Cocktailian writers devote a great deal of ink to the Martinez. We are drawn to its likely relationship to the modern-day Martini, its multiple creation myths, and the fact that it’s close to being a gin Manhattan. I’m no exception and I covered it most recently in 2019.

 While I’ve made multiple versions of the Martinez in the past, I’ve never made one with the base spirit that was featured in the version promoted by ur-bartender Jerry Thomas back in the day. Instead of the familiar London dry-style gins, Thomas’s recipe called for Old Tom gin. Think of it as London wet gin; the stuff you know but notably sweeter.

Since I had a couple of ¼ full Old Tom gin bottles to kill, I made sure they went out in style with this nicely balanced Martinez I stole from Difford’s Guide.

The Martinez (Jerry Thomas-esque)

2 ounces Old Tom gin
¾-1 ounce sweet vermouth
¼ ounce maraschino
¼ ounce dry vermouth
1 dash aromatic bitters (optional, I think)
1vorange twist (discarded garnish)
1 cocktail cherry (regular garnish)

Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass with lots of ice. Stir vigorously – some make this drink shaken but I think a good, long stir will do the trick. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Run a thin orange peel slice around the rim of the container and then twist the peel over the drink. Discard the peel – yes, you heard me, throw it away! Then, add your cherry. If you’re not using the cherry, you’re probably okay hanging on to the peel and using it as your visual garnish. The peel and the cherry clash slightly, I think.


I was afraid a Martinez with Old Tom would be too sweet but it’s lovely. Dolin dry and Martini vermouth both helped to cut the sweetness. My sweet vermouths were Dolin not-dry and Noilly Pratt. Both worked, but Dolin made it even more of a treat. 

Moving on to our base spirit, Old Tom gin brands have proliferated during the cocktail revival but what you use will vary greatly based on your location and bank balance. One of the brands I wound up with was Hayman’s, probably the most commonly available Old Tom. It’s nicely drinkable on its own and smooth at 80 proof, making for a very civilized Martinez.

Anchor Old Tom Gin used to be made roughly 350 miles to my north in San Francisco. It’s good stuff but you probably won’t be able to find it as it’s been killed, along with a venerable beer and ale brand, by corporate f*ckery. Anchor Old Tom was more roughhewn than Hayman’s but quite good. My dear departed bottle was more potent at 90 proof (45 abv) and more flavorful. The Martinez’s I made with it had more bite. 

Don’t underrate the importance of your choice of maraschino to any Martinez. It punches well above its weight in terms of the drink’s overall taste at only ¼ of an ounce. Luxardo remains the go-to maraschino for a reason. The extra expense is arguably very much worth as it brings a luscious silkiness to the drink. There’s nothing wrong with it, but less expensive Lazzaroni Maraschino couldn’t match it.

By the way, many believe the oldest Martinez cocktails were made with genever, the malty, more whiskey-ish Dutch antecedent of gin. So, yes, if I don’t get struck down by lighting, a semi, or a bottle of bad bathtub gin, a genever Martinez will come to DOTW!


About Author