• Happy Hour: The Martinez - with Jim from Gin Lane, Melbourne

by Jack Baxter

Many of those in the know consider the Martinez to be the original precursor to the Martini. This is a classic drink that has now sadly been all but forgotten, eclipsed by it’s younger and ever popular sibling.

In this edition of Happy Hour, we're taking a closer look at the Martinez and talking to Jim Marshall from Gin Lane in Belgrave, Melbourne; a man who knows more than a thing or two about cocktails.

Legend has it that the the Martinez was invented in 1870 by US ‘Professor’ Jerry Thomas. He mixed one part Gin and two parts Rosso Vermouth before adding a splash of Angostura and two dashes of Maraschino.

These were shaken together then strained to create the drink. Reportedly named after the town to which Thomas’ first customer was traveling. It proved to be a smooth and uplifting drink. 

As tastes changed over time, especially through European influence, the ratio of Gin to Rosso Vermouth came closer to 1:1, making for a slightly dryer drink. Eventually in 1930 the ‘Savoy Cocktail Book’ shows that this drink was being made exclusively with dry vermouth, reflecting the desire for yet dryer cocktails.

The Original Recipe:

• 1.5 parts Old Tom Gin

• 1.5 parts Sweet Vermouth

• 2 dashes Angostura Bitters

• 2 dashes Curacao

The Modern Recipe:

• 2 parts Dry Vermouth

• 1 part Old Tom Gin

• 3 or 4 dashes (preferably orange) Angostura Bitters

• 3 dashes Maraschino

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a cherry and lemon twist. This is a timeless and classic drink that makes for perfect, pre-dinner sipping. To get a professional opinion on the Martinez we spoke with cocktail aficionado; Jim Marshall.

Hi Jim, thanks for sharing your knowledge with Worthy &Spruce. What’re your credentials?

After returning from a decade abroad I found myself back living in the Dandenong Ranges on the edge of the Yarra Valley. Having grown up in the area, I was immediately aware of the cultural shift during the time I was away.

Traditionally Belgrave has been an alternate lifestyle community and regional arts base, all incense and dream catchers. Bleurgh. More and more however, partially due to the inaccessibility of the Inner Northern Suburbs of Melbourne's real estate market, the mountain has become the refuge of a wave of free change folk. In turn, the palate for a more city-centric style of bar culture has developed.

"Our basic mantra is that we are purveyors of live music, drinking, dancing and late night mischief."

Tell us a little bit about Gin Lane

Gin Lane is a fifty square metre bar hidden behind a Vietnamese nail salon. Our basic mantra is that we are purveyors of live music, drinking, dancing and late night mischief.

We have an emphasis on Gin and Vermouth, pouring a range of classic and contemporary cocktails. We also operate as a live venue, bringing a collection of city and local bands and DJs to the mountain. We are, for all intents and purposes, a hidden speakeasy in a sleepy town.

Nice, so why the Martinez?

I like it because it is such a beautifully balanced classic. Obviously, by the nature of its construction, it relies heavily on the contributing ingredients. My preferred serve at the moment substitutes the traditional Old Tom staples for a locally produced barrel aged Gin (Four Pillars barrel aged) from the Yarra Valley.

The Gin is lent a particular sweetness from French oak, without consuming the complexity of the basic botanicals. Perfect for a Martinez. Our preferred Vermouth at Gin Lane (for this cocktail) is Regal Rogue Rosso, Australia's flagship artisan Vermouth. The rest is straightforward- Luxardo Maraschino and Fee Brothers West Indian orange bitters.

A lemon twist garnish, with lemons fresh from my mama’s garden. I think the Martinez jumps to mind because it’s what I drink when I’m out. It also pre-dates the Martini, which is pretty fucking cool in itself.

"We are, for all intents and purposes, a hidden speakeasy in a sleepy town."

What else are you rocking these days, cocktail-wise?

At Gin Lane I‘m currently trying to perfect a Rosemary and Lemon Bitters Gin Old Fashioned which is pretty tough. The White Negroni is on my personal fave list just now as well.

Cool, thanks for the insight Jim, we’ll swing by Gin Lane next time we’re in Melbourne! 

You can find out more about Gin Lane here, or on their Facebook page here. A very classy establishment, make no mistake. Also keep your eyes peeled for upcoming editions of Happy Hour, or if you're a fan of convenience, sign up to our mailing list below to get all this sort of jazz in your inbox.

And don't forget to let us know what you think of the Martinez in the comments section below!

Till next time, this is Mr. Jack Baxter signing off.

Mr. Jack.

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