Sunday, September 7, 2008

My favorite cocktails, part 3

(Update below) The missing link: Martinez

The Manhattan is one of the oldest and finest cocktails and one of the first to combine base spirits with vermouth (Italian, or sweet vermouth). It was developed by someone (one of a number of possible bartenders) in a bar (one of a number of suggested locations, including the Manhattan Club) somewhere in New York City (which seems to be definite) sometime in the 1880s (or even the 1870s). The earliest recipes varied a lot, but the consistent components have always been: whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters.

There appears to be a general consensus that the Martini evolved from the Manhattan, although it may be difficult to see the connection on the surface. The Martini does have vermouth, but it's French (dry) vermouth and it uses gin rather than whiskey. And no bitters (although early recipes for the Martini actually included orange bitters). Without the missing link, it's hard to credit the lineage.

The Martinez is not only the transitional cocktail between the two, but it turns out to be a delicious drink on its own, and I can't understand how cocktail drinkers allowed it to disappear for generations. It substitutes gin for whiskey, adds a dab of sweetness from Maraschino liqueur (unnecessary with the sweetness of rye or bourbon), retains the bitters and adds a twist of lemon for the garnish. Gin and Maraschino make a wonderful pairing, as a lot of early cocktails attest. The Martinez is a beautiful drink, with a lovely amber hue; it's absurdly simple to make and even simpler to drink.

The Martinez (derived from Gary Regan's recipe)

2 oz. gin (Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray 10)
1 oz. sweet vermouth (Antica Formula)
1/4 oz. Maraschino liqueur
1 dash Angostura orange bitters

Stir with ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass, with a lemon twist for garnish


Tried the recipe with Vya sweet vermouth replacing the Antica Formula. Vya's version (from California) is a really intriguing take on vermouth, with a rich spicy character that reminds me (in a good way) of fruitcake. The Martinez? It might even be better this way, with a tiny bit more depth. The spice in the Vya is an excellent pairing with the spice in the gin.


Marisa said...

The Manhattan was my grandfather's favorite drink. It is my father's favorite drink and my husbands. Both my father and my husband share the same birthday.

S P O O K Y .


Debbie said...

Cocktails, cocktails!

The latest:

Oregon Bounty Cocktail Contest Finalists Announced

The winner was "Hike, Fish & Go Camping Punch"

dgs said...

On the subject of cocktails: If you deign to come to Seattle to visit my current 'hood, a bar within walking distance will mix us a Sazerac. A proper one, made with Lucid absinthe.

Just sayin'.

Jeff Frane said...

Cocktails in Seattle is most definitely on my wish list. There are a couple of places I need to make pilgrimage.

dgs said...

Seattle has a *lot* of cocktail bars, some so-so, some quite good, and how convenient: I live within walking distance of at least a couple of the good ones. It's not a bad hike to a pretty spiffy multi-tap pub too. C'mon up when you're feeling the need to get your drink on.