“The martinez is one of the classics that doesn’t get as much lip service,” says Molly Cohen, beverage director of SixtyFive and the Rainbow Room, who believes good wine and cocktails go hand in hand — and that the martinez’s relative obscurity is a crying shame.
While the history is muddy, the cocktail was likely invented when the bartenders of nineteenth-century Martinez, California, mixed Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, and maraschino, to their guests’ delight. Due to the town’s proximity to San Francisco, the drink took off.
One of the key aspects to the martinez is the use of aged gin. Old Tom adds a layer of smokiness to the concoction, and the deployment of maraschino and sweet vermouth differentiates it from a martini, a cocktail that hit the bar around the same time.
Cohen enjoys the drink so much that she decided to put a version of it on her menu. She calls her twist the Vote for Pedro. Dried curaçao provides notes of citrus, adding fruit to the smoke. “This liqueur doesn’t have that syrupy finish,” she says. “You’re going to get a better cocktail. You can have more of them.”
When not hanging about the refurbished Rainbow Room and its new terrace, Cohen enjoys grabbing a martinez and other classic drinks at Whitehall.
The recipes for both the classic and updated take on the martinez can be found below.
The Martinez (Molly Cohen’s version)
2 oz Martin Miller’s London Dry Gin
3/4 oz Punt e Mes (instead of sweet vermouth)
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino (instead of Cointreau or triple sec — blends great with Punt e Mes)
Dash of angostura bitters
Add ice and stir. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
Vote for Pedro
2 oz Greenhook Old Tom gin
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand dry curaçao
1/2 oz Emilio Lustau Pedro Ximenez sherry
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir in mixing glass over ice and strain into a coupe. Garnish with an orange peel.
Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice.