In preparation for Saturday’s Martini Bowl at Union Square Wines, I’ve been doing some experimenting.
It’s odd that no one can agree on the origins of the most popular cocktail. In his latest book, David Wondrich presents four different theories, ranging from The Jerry Thomas Theory (that Jerry, while working in San Francisco, made the drink for someone headed east to Martinez who had asked for something new), dubbed “exremely unlikely” to The Judge Martine Theory (that Judge Martine invented it at New York’s Manhattan Club), which he called “possible, but not proven”.
The style of the martini has changed over the years, becoming drier over time. Pre-Prohibition recipes were usually equal parts gin and vermouth or a 2 parts gin to 1 part vermouth ratio. Pre-World War II recipes often called for a 4 to 1 gin to vermouth ratio, while post-World War II ratios crept up to 15 to 1.
My Grossman’s Guide to Wines, Beers, and Spirits says that the Martinez Cocktail is the earliest martini-esque recipe they could find.
1 dash bitters
2 dashes (1 tsp) maraschino liqueur
1 pony (1 oz.) Old Tom gin
1 wineglass (2 oz.) vermouth
2 small lumps of ice
Shake thoroughly and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a quarter slice of lemon and if the guest prefers it sweet, add 2 dashes of gum syrup.
You’ll have to stop by on Saturday to see what we decided to go with, but in the meantime, we can all agree on the beautiful relationship between gin and vermouth.