Jerry Thomas

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.

Read all about it!

I’ve just realised that I am probably (no probably about it!) a fully-fledged cocktail geek (a suspicion I’ve had for some time actually!). Having taken a look at my bookcase it seems to be rather overloaded with cocktail books, with very few books on any other subject. That’s ok though, taking a look at them, I realise that they chart my journey from ‘casually interested in drinks’ to ‘make my own bitters’. A journey any fellow cocktail geek will recognise!

As I browse my collection, I realise that as my knowledge of cocktails has grown, the type of books I look for have changed. I started with books that demonstrated tequniques and had lots of pictures, and now I find myself buying books from pre-prohibition that are stacked full of obscure names, measuring units and illustrations! Seeing the range of books on my shelves has got me thinking that maybe it’s time that bitters&twisted did its first book review.
Hopefully there is something for everyone here, whether you are a drinker who fancies having a go at making cocktails at home or a full time bartender looking to expand your knowledge. One thing’s for sure, there are enough cocktail books out there to keep you busy for a lifetime, but we’ve chosen a range that hopefully offer enough to get you started.
I plan on making book reviews a feature of the b&t website when it launches, but in the meantime here are some personal favourites: