In A Collar and Tie (GQ Book 4), Henry and Martin go to the Venetian Bar and have a few drinks. They first try the Martinez and then the Gin Daisy.
All the mixed drinks they imbibe in the books are gin-based, and that is because I prefer gin drinks, and I knew I’d want to try whatever I had them drink. I’m not (yet) a whiskey/rye/bourbon fan (which is a shame, considering where I live), so I wasn’t going to want to invest in a bunch of amber liquor that I wouldn’t otherwise want to drink.
The Martinez is believed to be the precursor to the much-simpler/possibly more elegant Martini. It was probably developed in the 1860s, but first showed up in a cocktail recipe book in 1884.
Here is the Martinez Cocktail recipe from the Jerry Thomas Bartender’s Guide of 1887, which is where I got all the drink ideas from:
- Take 1 dash of Boker’s bitters.
- 2 dashes of Maraschino.
- 1 pony of Old Tom gin.
- 1 wine-glass of Vermouth.
- 2 small lumps of ice.
Shake up thoroughly, and strain into a large cocktail
glass. Put a quarter of a slice of lemon in the glass, and serve. If the guest prefers it very sweet, add two dashes of gum syrup.
Not knowing how much a “pony” or “wine glass” would actually be, I looked for a modern conversion. (I did discover that a pony is apparently 1 oz and a wine glass 4 oz, but I can’t imagine wanting to drink that much vermouth at once.) There are a bunch of recipes with different proportions out there, and I tried several, but this is what the Mr. and I have settled on:
Martinez (my preferred recipe):
- 2.5 oz Old Tom gin (I like Ransom)
- 2.5 oz sweet/red vermouth (I like Carpano Antica)
- 0.75 oz maraschino liqueur
- 3 dashes orange bitters
Stir with ice to chill, strain into Martini glass because you’re fancy. It’s traditionally garnished with a lemon twist (though it’s still good without). The Mr. likes to wipe the rim of the glass with lemon peel, as well, and I do recommend this because I, like Henry, LOVE lemon!
Note that my recipe makes a double-size bonus drink by modern bar standards, but well in keeping with the 5 oz of booze in the Jerry Thomas version. Also, I’ve made it both shaken and stirred, and there really does seem to be a difference. Currently, I like it stirred. You probably only need one of these!
Here’s another Martinez recipe from Employees Only, a wonderful bar in NYC where I drank yet another variation that used lavender-infused gin. Note also that their version uses a dry/white vermouth.
The Martinez is currently my favorite cocktail, taking over first place from the Corpse Reviver No. 2, a 1920s (?) hangover cure made of gin, Cointreau, Cocchi Americano/Lillet Blanc, lemon juice and an absinthe wash.
Somewhere between 1887, when Jerry Thomas’ recipes were published in book form, and 1917, when Tom Bullock published The Ideal Bartender, the Gin Daisy became a drink with lime juice and grenadine, and it has had grenadine in it pretty much ever since. I am not interested in any grenadine versions, especially when maraschino liqueur is so delicious.
Gin Daisy (Jerry Thomas recipe)
- Take 3 or 4 dashes of Orgeat, or gum syrup.
- 3 dashes of Maraschino.
- The juice of half a small lemon.
- 1 wine-glass of gin
Shake well, strain into a large cocktail glass, and fill up with Seltzer or Apollinaris water.
We have yet to make a version of the Daisy that I like, which is a little baffling because I like all the things that go into it. I’ll keep working on it, but I have faint hope for it ever becoming a favorite.
Bonus Drink: In A Most Personal Property (GQ Book 1), Henry gets sick drinking Gin Sangaree at Louis’ party. I chose this drink because it sounded really peculiar to me–at the time–and definitely old-fashioned.
Gin Sangaree (Jerry Thomas recipe)
- Take ½ teaspoonful of fine white sugar dissolved in a little water.
- 1 wine-glass of gin
- dash port wine
- grated nutmeg
Fill a medium glass one-third full of shaved ice, shake up well, strain into a small glass and dash a little Port wine on top. Serve with a little grated nutmeg.
Well, that wine-glass is 4 oz of gin, and while I am certainly capable of drinking 4 oz of gin in an evening, I’m too ladylike to start out with that as my blatant intention.
I looked into different recipes, and the one I settled on is a half-size version, as follows:
Gin Sangaree (version I’ve tried):
- 2 oz gin
- 1 T port
- 1/2 tsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp water
- carbonated water
- freshly-grated nutmeg
Dissolve powdered sugar in water and add gin. Pour into a highball glass over 2 ice cubes. Fill with carbonated water and stir. Float port on top, sprinkle lightly with nutmeg, and serve.
As far as I can determine, from both personal experience and the reports of people online, the port does not ever “float” on top of anything. It sinks into the gin and sugar-water mixture immediately. Also, I couldn’t taste the nutmeg at all at first, and I ended up adding enough nutmeg to practically make a paste of it, but I couldn’t really taste it at all until quite some time after I’d imbibed, when suddenly the nutmeg flavor bloomed on my tongue.
Overall, this was a perfectly okay drink, and it seems very plausible that Henry would be willing to drink enough of it to make himself ill, but I don’t know if I’ll be making it again. I mean, it’s fine, but I like to actively enjoy my alcoholic beverages. I’m not into indifference, and I certainly don’t want to be choking them down.
As I said, this seemed like a weird drink to me when I was writing AMPP, but after other forays into vintage cocktails, it’s actually not very strange at all. The port is much milder than the Carpano Antica vermouth that I am always combining with gin, and the nutmeg is not the spicy assault I had expected, but rather is reserved and even dainty.
This is certainly not the last GQ-related post I will ever make, but it is the last of the GQ-specific posts I drafted while I was writing and editing the books, so I feel a little sentimental about publishing it. If you read the series, thank you so much for doing so. I hope you enjoyed it! And thank you for following these research posts. I’ve loved doing them, and I hope they’ve been interesting to readers. Please keep an eye out for future stories in the GQ universe in 2016, and a non-GQ book coming out hopefully before the end of 2015.