Boker's bitters

What's a Martinez?


On the surface of it, the question of ‘what’s a Martinez’ seems pretty self-explanatory; after all, you can walk into any good bar, order one and be pretty confident about what you’ll get in your glass. The chances are you’ll get a lot of sweet vermouth, a little bit of gin, a splash of maraschino and a dash or two of bitters. Occasionally there might be a bit more gin and a little less vermouth, or you might get Boker’s bitters or orange bitters; you might even get a splash of curacao instead of maraschino, but all in all you’re likely to receive a sweet vermouth and gin cocktail, with a splash of liqueur and a dose of bitters.

Over the years there has been much debate about the intertwined history of the Martinez cocktail and the Martini, with speculation about whether the Martinez might be the forefather of the Martini or, if in fact they were once the same drink, known by similar names but got confused over the years. The truth is we’re never likely to know, but somewhere along the way the two drinks have diverged to become completely different cocktails. It’s now accepted that the Martini is made with dry vermouth and the Martinez with sweet, the former has no liqueur added but the latter is usually enriched with a barspoon of maraschino. The Martini is heavy on gin, with vermouth playing a supporting role, whereas the Martinez is a vermouth-led cocktail. In other words they are only connected in as much as that they are in the broad family of gin and vermouth based drinks.

Take your medicine!

If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard someone say that they’re going to have a drink ‘just for medicinal purposes’ I’d use the money to buy myself a drink! While I wouldn’t dream of claiming that drinking is beneficial for your health, the saying almost certainly comes from the fact that alcohol and medicine have been linked for centuries.
Early remedies were often infused in an alcohol solution to make them potable, and in fact the process of distillation began as a way of concentrating the healing properties of herbs and plants. Even as recently as the 1930’s Whiskey was prescribed by doctors to people suffering from a variety of ailments including the common cold.