top of page
  • Writer's pictureJohn B. Reyna

Respect your elders. Yes, we're looking at you, Martini!

Updated: May 29, 2020

David Wondrich, one of the foremost cocktail historians in the world, says that, “The Martini is the King of Cocktails, the most famous of them all.”

Sure, you might fancy an Old Fashioned more, but ask yourself this: What is the first real cocktail that you were consciously aware of as a kid or teenager? Yeah, it was probably the Martini. From the named glassware to James Bond, the Martini is undeniably at the pinnacle of cocktail culture.

Yet, lost in all the Martini’s fanfare is that it evolved primarily from two other classic cocktails—the Manhattan and the Martinez.

So let’s explore these two delicious and historic cocktails!

The Manhattan

The Manhattan was invented at New York’s Manhattan Club around 1880. The first full written recipe appeared in O.H. Byron’s The Modern Bartenders’ Guide in 1884, but there are references to the cocktail before O.H.’s recipe. While the Manhattan today is similar to the Manhattan of the 1900s, the drink has morphed over the years. In the early days, it was known to have gum syrup, which was a bar staple at that time and shows up in hundreds of old cocktail recipes. Also, the drink was equal parts whiskey and vermouth.

The early recipes simply stated whiskey and did not expressly refer to either rye or bourbon. As Jim Meehan says, “don’t allow a history-minded bartender to con you out of a good bourbon Manhattan.” In the video below, Shen makes our house Manhattan with Eagle Rare bourbon. We also chose to use Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino because its cocoa notes play harmoniously with Eagle Rare.


2 oz whiskey (bourbon or rye)

1 oz sweet vermouth (we recommend Cocchi Storico Vermouth di Torino)

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Fill with ice. Stir. Strain into a chilled coupe.

The Martinez

The Martinez is a direct descendent of the Manhattan, and there is written evidence to prove it. In O.H. Byron’s 1884 The Modern Bartenders’ Guide, Byron mentions the Martinez as being, “Same as Manhattan, only you substitute gin for whiskey.” Oddly, Byron’s Martinez recipe was missing any more direction, which is really confusing when you realize that his 1884 book had two Manhattan recipes, one above the other. Even with this confusion, the Martinez prevailed.

In 1887, Jerry Thomas’s second edition of his Bartender’s Guide specified the use of Old Tom gin. If you’ve never heard of Old Tom gin, you are not alone. In fact, it had been lost to the ages until 2007 when Hayman Distillers of the UK used a family recipe for Old Tom gin hailing from 1870. In 2009, Ransom Spirits, in collaboration with David Wondrich, created its own Old Tom gin. You can now find dozens of Old Tom Gins, but those two are held in the highest esteem.

In general, Old Tom gin is a sweeter, less-botanical version of London Dry gin. I say In general because some have added sugar and some don’t; some are aged in wine barrels and some are not; and some are clear and some have a light hay color. Because the distillation process had ceased and recipes were lost, there is a lack of reliable information regarding how to make Old Tom gin in its true, authentic formula. If indeed, one actually existed in the 1900s. So you just need to taste a few and make your decision on your favorite. Our favorite is Ransom.

So where does the name Old Tom come from? There’s the legend that an old tomcat fell into a vat of gin. There’s also evidence of wooden plaques shaped like “Old Tom” black cats that adorned the outside walls of pubs in 18th Century England. David Wondrich believes that Old Tom takes its name from a gin distiller named Thomas Chamberlain who created this style around 1800. Regardless of the name’s history, it was incredibly popular in the 19th Century. There are recipes for the Ramos Gin Fizz, Martini, and the Tom Collins.

Ok, enough history. Let’s get back to the cocktail making.


2 oz Old Tom gin (we recommend Ransom)

¾ oz sweet vermouth (we recommend Carpano Antica Formula)

¼ oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur

1 dash Angostura bitters

1 dash orange bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Fill with ice. Stir. Strain into a chilled coupe.

As stated above, while Ransom is our favorite Old Tom, you can sub out any of your favorite Old Tom gins. If you don’t have Old Tom, use whatever gin you have. It will still be delicious. For the sweet vermouth, we chose Carpano Antica Formula for its delightful vanilla notes, which merges effortlessly with Ransom’s malted barley.

The 2 Parts Spirit to 1 Part Vermouth Code

Hopefully, you notice how similar the Martinez is to the Manhattan. Earlier recipes had 1 ounce of sweet vermouth so it was even more similar to the Manhattan. But we here at Teakwood Tavern prefer cutting back the sweet vermouth and bumping up the maraschino liqueur. Feel free to play with the recipe on your own and see what variation you like best.

This is just a hunch, but you will be seeing this base recipe again in the near future. Maybe when Teakwood Tavern discusses the Martini.

In the meanwhile, enjoy these two classic cocktails. They paved the way for the King of the Cocktails; yet, they are equally delicious and as historically important to me!



P.S. If you didn't catch our intro on our Instagram feed (@teakwoodtavern), then here you go:

















117 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page