Martinez Cocktail Recipe: A Classic Gin Drink

If you’ve never tried the Martinez Cocktail, you’re in for a treat. This delicious gin classic is an older version of the Manhattan that inspired the Martini.

Martinez cocktail in coupe glass with orange twist

This drink has been around since the mid-1800s and is believed to be the precursor to the modern-day Martini. Mixing gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters, this cocktail can be easily elevated with high-quality ingredients and a few simple tricks.

Whether you’re hosting a cocktail party or just want to treat yourself at home, read on for everything you need to know about making the perfect Martinez Cocktail.

History of the Martinez Cocktail

The Martinez Cocktail is a classic cocktail with origins that are unclear. It was probably invented in California in the mid-1800s.

It’s been attributed to both a bartender named Jerry Thomas at the Occidental Hotel or a bartender named Richelieue who worked in the city of Martinez, California. 

The recipe first appeared in the 1887 edition of Thomas’ The Bar-Tender’s Guide cocktail book. In recent years, the Martinez Cocktail has experienced a resurgence in popularity, with mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts rediscovering its complex, herbal flavors.

Forerunner of the Martini

It is believed to be the precursor to the modern-day Martini, with some historians claiming that it was first made in the late 1860s while others argue that it was created around the 1880s or 1890s.

Ingredients for the Classic Martinez Cocktail Recipe

The Martinez Cocktail is a classic cocktail that is easy to make with just a few high-quality ingredients.

  • Gin: The base spirit for a Martinez Cocktail. Use a high-proof gin with bold botanicals for the best flavor.
  • Sweet Vermouth: Provides the sweetness and body of the cocktail. (A dry vermouth would make it too dry.)
  • Maraschino Liqueur: A key ingredient that adds a distinctive cherry flavor and a touch of sweetness.
  • Bitters: Provides a subtle depth and complexity to the cocktail. Angostura bitters are a classic choice, but orange bitters work too.

For the best-tasting Martinez Cocktail, it is important to use high-quality ingredients. Top-shelf gin and artisanal maraschino liqueur can elevate the flavor of the cocktail. Avoid using low-quality ingredients that can detract from the overall taste.

The Best Maraschino Liqueur

When making a Martinez Cocktail, the maraschino liqueur is a key ingredient that can greatly impact the cocktail’s flavor. Choose high-quality maraschino liqueurs, like:

  1. Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur: This brand has been producing authentic maraschino liqueur for over 200 years and is considered one of the best options on the market. It has a slightly sweet and nutty taste that works well in a Martinez Cocktail.
  2. Tempus Fugit Maraschino Liqueur: This brand produces a triple-distilled maraschino liqueur that has a complex flavor with notes of vanilla, almond, and cherry. It is a great option for those looking to add some depth to their Martinez Cocktail.
  3. Maraska Maraschino Liqueur: Made in Croatia from marasca cherries, this liqueur has a light and fruity taste that adds a subtle sweetness to the Martinez Cocktail. It is a great option for those who prefer a less intense maraschino flavor.

Old Tom Gin or Any Quality Gin?

The original recipe for the Martinez called for Old Tom gin, and that’s a great choice for this cocktail. Other London dry gins can work well too.

You can even experiment with modern gins that will give it a more floral or citrus flavor.  

Ultimately, it’s up to personal preference. Try experimenting with different gins to find the perfect one for your Martinez Cocktail.

Related Cocktails

If you enjoy the classic Martinez Cocktail, there are some others you might want to try.

The Manhattan

With vermouth, angostura bitters and rye or bourbon, this one is like a Martinez without the gin.

Classic Dry Martini

This simple gin cocktail is one of the most enduring classic drinks in the world.


This one calls for rye whiskey and bitters with sugar and a bit of water, making it a sweeter cocktail than the Martinez.

The Best Food Pairings with Martinez Cocktail

The complex flavors of a Martinez Cocktail can be complemented by a variety of bite-sized appetizers or a hearty meal.

  • Olives: The salty and briny flavor of olives can balance the sweetness of the cocktail.
  • Charcuterie: A meat and cheese board can provide a perfect pairing for the Martinez Cocktail, with salty and savory flavors to match the drink’s complexity.
  • Cheese: Pairing the Martinez Cocktail with a creamy cheese like brie or goat cheese can help balance the strong flavors of the drink.
  • Steak: A hearty steak can complement the strong and bold flavors of the cocktail without overpowering it.
  • Pasta: A rich pasta dish like carbonara or bolognese can help balance the strong cocktail with hearty, comforting flavors.
  • Roasted Meat: Pairing the Martinez Cocktail with roasted chicken or pork can provide a perfect balance of flavors between the meat and the drink.
  • Chocolate Desserts: The sweetness and richness of chocolate can complement the complex flavors of the cocktail as a perfect, decadent pairing.
  • Fruit Tarts: Tart fruit desserts like raspberry or lemon tarts can provide a refreshing contrast to the strong flavors of the Martinez Cocktail.

Serving Martinez Cocktail: When and Where to Enjoy It

The Martinez Cocktail is a classic cocktail that can be enjoyed any time of year. It’s equally at home with elegant cocktail or dinner parties as casual get-togethers. 

It’s best served in a chilled coupe glass. Pair it with bite-sized appetizers like olives, charcuterie, or cheese to complement the complex flavors of the cocktail.

If you’re serving a meal, a hearty dish like steak, pasta, or roasted meat can balance the strong cocktail. And for dessert, consider sweet treats like chocolate or fruit tarts to be a perfect ending to your Martinez Cocktail experience.


The Martinez Cocktail is a classic with a rich and debated history. Its complex flavor profile, featuring sweet vermouth and maraschino, makes it a favorite among cocktail enthusiasts and novice drinkers alike. 

Whether you’re enjoying it with appetizers, a hearty meal, or sweet desserts, the Martinez Cocktail is a perfect choice for any occasion. So go ahead and give this classic cocktail a try, and taste for yourself what makes it so special.

Martinez cocktail in coupe glass with orange twist
Yield: 1 drink

Martinez Cocktail Recipe

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 3 minutes


  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Orange twist


  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Add all ingredients and stir until well-chilled.
  3. Strain the mixture into a chilled coupe glass.
  4. Garnish with an orange peel or twist.

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