Before we give you the conflicted origin story of the Martinez cocktail recipe — no way, a cocktail with a conflicted origin story?!
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— here are some other awesome gin cocktail recipes we think you’ll love: the Negroni, the Adios Pink Lemonade, the Tom Collins, the Singapore Sling, and The Aviation. Alright, now we mentioned a conflicted origin story for the classic Martinez cocktail recipe and that is indeed what we’re going to give you. As the classic Martinez cocktail Wiki points out, “The true origin of the Martinez cocktail is unclear… [t]wo early stories attribute the making of a cocktail named the Martinez to bartender Jerry Thomas at the Occidental Hotel or by a bartender by the name of Richelieu who worked at a saloon in Martinez, California.” The classic Martinez cocktail Wiki goes on to note that “Both stories are difficult to specifically date, but the 1887 edition of Thomas’ The Bar-Tender’s Guide includes a recipe for the Martinez.” So Richelieu’s claim is bogus and we should only pay attention to Thomas’s right? Not necessarily! As the Gin Foundry notes, “Thomas had not published the Martinez in his edition of this cocktail guide dated to 1862, only writing about it in his 1887 version, circulated two years after his death.” Gin Foundry goes on to point out that “[T]here is little other evidence that he was the creator.” How about the evidence for Richelieu? What kind of claim does he have to the Martinez cocktail recipe throne? Well, the Gin Foundry goes on to talk about how Richelieu’s claim comes from the fact that he was a bartender in the town of Martinez, California in 1870, and supposedly served a gin and vermouth drink with a pickled fruit garnish, thus establishing the classic Martinez cocktail as a newly minted classic. But this story is just hearsay and seems to be uncorroborated, so who knows if it’s true? How about the classic Martinez cocktail recipe though? That’s definitely a lot more clear than the origin story of the cocktail, right? Wrong! Saveur notes that “a definitive recipe for the mother of the most popular vermouth and gin-based libation has eluded even the biggest cocktail nerds.” The Martinez cocktail Wiki points out that “the 1887 edition of Thomas’ The Bar-Tender’s Guide includes a recipe for the Martinez… [and] that it calls for a pony of Old Tom gin, a glass of vermouth, two dashes of Maraschino, and a dash of bitters with ice, garnished with a slice of lemon” But the Wiki goes on to say that an 1884 drink guide by O.H. Byron released a few years earlier than Thomas’ notes that the Martinez is the “Same as Manhattan, only you substitute gin for whisky.” Speaking of which, it seems that the classic Manhattan cocktail recipe is the parent recipe of the Martinez, with the Martinez itself giving birth to the legendary Martini recipe. So if you love the classic Martini cocktail then you have the Martinez cocktail to thank. Which itself has the Manhattan cocktail to thank…. Look, just thank whichever deity you believe in that there’s booze, OK? Or maybe you don’t believe in one, we don’t know. As a little side note here, if you’re interested in some more vermouth cocktail recipes, check out these bad boys: The Raspotini, the Pollyanna, the English Rose, the Income Tax cocktail, and the Green Parrot.