Queen Bee Mixology

The Martinez: The Forerunner of the Martini

The Martinez: The Forerunner of the Martini

Welcome to the enchanting world of mixology, where we uncover the fascinating stories behind iconic cocktails. In honor of National Martini Day, we’re diving into the rich history of the Martinez, a cocktail that paved the way for the beloved Martini. Whether you’re a seasoned mixologist or just someone who enjoys a good drink, this story is sure to captivate and inspire your next cocktail creation.

What is the Martinez?

The Martinez is a cocktail that dates back to the mid-19th century, often considered the grandfather of the Martini. It’s a delightful blend of gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and a dash of bitters. This drink is not only delicious but also steeped in history, offering a glimpse into the evolution of cocktails over time.

The exact origins of the Martinez are a bit murky, as with many classic cocktails. Some say it was created in the town of Martinez, California, while others attribute it to the legendary bartender Jerry Thomas, who included a recipe for the Martinez in his 1887 bartending guide. Regardless of its precise beginnings, the Martinez quickly gained popularity and became a staple in bars across America.

One popular story claims that a gold miner walked into a bar in Martinez, California, after striking it rich and asked the bartender for something special. The bartender whipped up a concoction of gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and bitters, which the miner loved. He took the recipe with him to San Francisco, and the Martinez was born.

Another tale attributes the creation of the Martinez to Jerry Thomas, a famous 19th-century bartender known as the “father of American mixology.” His 1887 book, “The Bartender’s Guide,” includes a recipe for the Martinez, solidifying its place in cocktail history.

Pictured left to right: Strawberry Martinez, Cucumber Martini

The Martinez vs. The Martini

You might be wondering how the Martinez differs from the Martini. The main difference lies in the ingredients and the flavor profile. The Martinez uses sweet vermouth and maraschino liqueur, giving it a slightly sweeter and more complex taste compared to the dry, crisp Martini.

The Martini, which emerged in the early 20th century, is typically made with dry gin and dry vermouth, resulting in a cleaner, more straightforward flavor. The Martinez, with its combination of sweet vermouth and maraschino liqueur, offers a richer, more aromatic experience.

If you’re a fan of the Martini, you’ll likely enjoy the Martinez. It’s a wonderful way to explore the history of cocktails and appreciate the nuances of flavor that different ingredients can bring. Plus, it’s always fun to impress your friends with a bit of cocktail history and a delicious drink they’ve probably never tried before!

A Modern Twist on a Classic

While the traditional Martinez remains a timeless classic, modern mixologists, including myself, enjoy putting their unique spin on it. One of my favorite unique takes on the Martinez is the Strawberry Martinez, a refreshing and slightly fruity twist on the traditional recipe. In this variation, fresh strawberries are introduced, bringing a vibrant and modern touch to the drink. This addition makes the Strawberry Martinez an ideal choice for those who appreciate the classic cocktail but are eager to try something a little different.

Final Sips

The Martinez is more than just a cocktail; it’s a journey through time, flavor, and culture. Whether you’re sipping it at a chic cocktail bar or mixing one up at home, this drink invites you to savor the artistry of mixology and the rich history of cocktail creation.

So, next time you’re in the mood for a drink, why not reach for the Martinez? It’s a delightful way to explore a piece of history while enjoying a delicious and unique cocktail. Cheers to new discoveries and classic favorites!


Author Meet Kelly Sparks, the creative mastermind and cocktail influencer behind @QueenBeeMixology. While mixology may not be her day job, it is her passion. As the Founder and CEO of VMG Studios, a successful and award-winning creative agency and video production studio, Kelly brings her expertise in creativity to the world of cocktails. As a self-taught and dedicated do-it-yourselfer, Kelly makes the journey to amazing cocktails accessible to everyone. And when she’s not hard at work, you can find her sipping a delicious drink with her husband.

To mix drinks like a pro, check out my go-to bar tools and glasses.