Maybe you’ve never heard of it, the classic cocktail that’s not a martini or Manhattan.
But, along with an Old-Fashioned and Negroni, it should top your list of elegant old standbys, and not only for its gorgeous color.
A Martinez resembles liquid amber. The simple blend of Old Tom gin, maraschino liqueur, sweet vermouth and bitters is carried in a coupe. And it just might make a gin drinker of the most stubborn of non-gin drinkers.
Old Tom gin is velvety; it doesn’t offer that piney bite of a London Dry or Plymouth gin. This style of gin is barrel-aged, sweeter, smoother.
“I’ve won many a non-gin drinker over with this,” said Simon Moorby, manager and head bartender at Spokane’s Hogwash Whiskey Den. “It’s less harsh. It’s more of a softer, friendlier cocktail that still packs a punch.”
The sweet vermouth in a Martinez softens and enriches the base spirit, which is also rounded out by the citrusy bitters and floral cherry notes of the maraschino liqueur.
Along with the Old Tom gin, Moorby said, “I like the history of this one.”
The cocktail dates to at least the early 1880s; the first recipes for it appeared in 1884 and 1887.
So why aren’t more people aware of it? Perhaps because it so closely resembles more common – more popular – classics.
At some point, vermouth – which is actually fortified wine – fell out of favor with the American public. Of late, vermouth has been seeing its own revival, and that might be a reason more are interested in the Martinez.
Also contributing to the resurgence are bartenders like Moorby, who are committed to the art and craft of classic cocktails.
He insists on stirring the ingredients. “You want to chill it,” he explains. “You don’t want a cloudy mess.”
Whatever you do, don’t down it. “It’s a sipper,” Moorby said. “It’s a good 3 ounces of straight spirits. But, it’s beautifully balanced.”
What’s your proudest moment or accomplishment behind the bar? It was stepping back behind it after a two-year hiatus. I rejoined Sante in winter 2015. I had a brand-new focus in life. I was ready for the next chapter.
What drink should people order if they want to seem like the coolest cat in the bar? I think it’s entirely up to understanding where you’re at. You don’t want to order a Manhattan at a dive bar. Don’t be that guy. It really depends on where you are – when in Rome.
How would you describe the perfect cocktail? I think the perfect cocktail showcases the base spirit. It should be simple and elegant.
How would you describe Spokane’s cocktail scene? It’s a really exciting time for our food and drink scene. I think things are moving in a rapid progression and guests are willing to experiment and try new things.
What was your most unusual drink request? There’s this dice game bartenders play. Each die has a different characteristic. You come up with obscure combinations, including – but not limited to – Scotch tikis. And you have to make it. That’s the way the game works. It was a fun way for me to learn. Intimidation is a good thing. Never be complacent. Confidence comes from experience. Or, it should.
Where was your first job behind a bar? Village Tavern, Airway Heights, 2002.
What have you learned about yourself or life on the job? I’ve learned you can’t always make everybody happy.
From Simon Moorby of Hogwash Whiskey Den
1 1/2 ounces Old Tom gin
1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Orange twist, for garnish
Stir all liquid ingredients on ice. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with an orange twist after expressing its oils over the drink and rubbing the rim with the rind.
Note: Moorby uses Dolin Rouge vermouth and Luxardo maraschino liqueur.