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Colleen Graham

The Martinez - The "Father" of the Martini

By March 29, 2008

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The Fabiola Cocktail
Fabiola Cocktail © SKYY Spirits
Last week we had a discussion about the king of cocktails, the Martini, but let's take one step back and talk about the Martinez. It is almost literally one step because it is widely accepted that the Martinez had direct influence on the creation of the Martini. A couple of the accounts of the Martini's origin refers to Martinez, California where I'm told a plaque still marks the occasion and directly influenced the naming of the Martinez cocktail. This may be true and it may not, but for the sake of argument I'm going with this story. The Martinez recipe is old, we know that because in his 1887 The Bon Vivant's Companion: Or How to Mix Drinks Professor Jerry Thomas is the first to put it into print. And it was Thomas who is credited with creating the sweet drink while working in California for a patron traveling to, where else, Martinez.

According to The Joy of Mixology, Thomas' Martinez was heavy on vermouth, light on the gin and calls for Boker's bitters, which is no longer available but Angostura is a great substitute. Add a little maraschino liqueur and a lemon twist and you have this great classic, often overlooked, sweet gin cocktail that Gary Regan refers to as "born of the Manhattan...and is the father, or perhaps grandfather, of the Dry Gin Martini."


March 31, 2008 at 12:25 pm
(1) bernard.barbuk says:

The supposed ancestry of the martini in the Martinez is the least supportable myth in cocktail lore. The Martinez story is just a rather sad publicity stunt for a rather sad town, and has nothing to support it other than a similarity in names. The Martini is out of New York and named for the vermouth; and before there were dry martinis there were scores of versions of sweet ones, because sweet Italian vermouth was first on the scene.

December 3, 2008 at 6:41 pm
(2) Kevin says:

Easy on my hometown people! As a proud Martizian and former New Yorker (well, Ithaca, NY that is) I declare that the Martini came from Martinez.

Ok, so I am biased but here is what the independent un-biased always factually accurate Wikipedia (haha!) has to say “William Grimes, restaurant critic for The New York Times reports the theory (in Straight Up or On the Rocks: the Story of the American Cocktail) that the dry martini was invented in 1912 by Signor Martini di Arma di Taggia, the bartender at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel. Numerous published references to the martini before 1912 discount this theory.”

December 1, 2011 at 1:05 pm
(3) Karen says:

You tell ‘em Kevin! Martinez is my hometown too and it is NOT sad!! You should check out Remembering Martinez on facebook – lots of old photos and stories

October 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm
(4) Greg says:

Regarding Bernard’s comment– I’ve never seen any compelling evidence that the martini originated in New York. Overwhelming evidence supports it having been created in San Francisco. If you have evidence to the contrary, please share it.

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