The Classic Martinez Cocktail with a Winter Twist.
What makes you order a particular cocktail from a bar menu? In my case, the comfort of familiarity means I often pick the same drink. And, I’m inclined to ask for the mixologist’s own speciality. Force of habit means that while the Martinez is a classic cocktail, I seldom pick it when I’m out, though it’s a delicious and easy mouthful and I’ve been served it as part of a cocktail and food pairing event. It’s often considered to be the precursor of the Martini, but that could just be history reinvented. No one is quite sure where it originated either – perhaps in Martinez California or perhaps invented by Jerry Thomas who is reported to have created it at the Occidental Hotel for a traveller who was heading to Martinez. The first published recipe is in the 1884 edition of ‘The Modern Bartender’s Guide’ by O H Byron. It’s actually an easy cocktail to make at home and just that little bit different to a Martini so rather fun if you are aiming to impress your guests. Do make sure though, that all the ingredients are top quality because it’s undiluted with no juice, soda or tonic, so the flavours of the spirits will sing through.
Now, I’ve just been sent a bottle of a seasonal special release from Martin Miller, a premium gin brand that was created by one of the UK’s mavericks. I first came across Martin Miller with Miller’s Antique Price Guides – a publication my mother used as the base for auction house bidding. I didn’t know that his preceding publication was an etiquette guide ‘Success with the Fairer Sex’. Nor did I know about the string of boutique hotels he owned. By chance though (or possibly because I drink a lot of gin!) I already knew the story of how this premium gin was born. Despairing about the quality of mass-produced products, Martin with two of his friends created Martin Miller’s Gin in Notting Hill back in 1998 when artisan gin was a whisper rather than a roar. Made according to traditional London dry gin style, but with two separate pot distillations to separate and perfect the flavour balance, the distillate is shipped to Iceland to be mixed with the purest water of the Arctic.
Winterful Gin is inspired by the botanicals commonly used in home-made mulled wine recipes in both England and Iceland (where it is known as Jóla Glögg) and at some point, I will be trying my own Mulled gin using Winterful as the base. But, when I first sipped Winterful, the cocktail which seemed most appropriate was the Martinez. Created from the iconic twin-distilled Original Blend, Winterful Gin has another set of botanicals associated with ‘winter tastes’ – cinnamon and mandarin orange peel – which are added via a third distillation.
Sip Winterful Gin by itself and if you are anything like me, you’ll become slightly addicted. It’s a soft and fragrant mouthful that doesn’t need tonic and doesn’t need to be mixed into a cocktail. But, in a Martinez, with sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, Angostura bitters and a citrus twist, it’s perfect. Next time I’m going to try it with Orange Curacao which I think will work equally well.
Here’s how to make a Martinez if you want to try for yourself. Make sure you have plenty of ice and a coupe or martini glass to serve the drink. Then follow the simple recipe through.
Classic Martinez cocktail recipe
- 50 ml gin I used Martin Miller Winterful
- 25 ml vermouth rosso
- 5 ml maraschino liqueur
- 1 dash Angostura bitter
- orange twist
Put the ice in a jug or cocktail shaker
Top up with gin, maraschino, bitters, and vermouth
Stir well until the mixture is well chilled
Strain into your glass
Garnish with an orange twist, expressing the oils over the drink before dropping it into the glass
WINTERFUL is available in Waitrose nationwide (£27.99) and it will also be available on Amazon.