Saturday, September 13, 2008
Sunday, September 7, 2008
(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.