I recently finished reading David Wondrich's delightful Imbibe! (a must-read for anyone interested in cocktails, or American history for that matter). At one point, the book pretty much credits vermouth with the evolution of the cocktail beyond subtle variations on the spirit + sugar + bitters + water formula.
Now, I have not always enjoyed Italian (sweet) vermouth; in fact, after completing list and free to make my own selections, I steered away from drinks containing it. But after reading about its early importance and popularity, I felt, well, ashamed of my distaste. As someone who prides herself on her broad palate, I felt that I was missing something and should try again.
So, the next time I found myself at Anvil, I asked Justin to help me out. He served me a selection of drinks featuring the fortified wine, and hey, I enjoyed them all! They were all cocktails I had tried during my journey through the List, but for whatever reason (different brands, different bartender, passage of time?), I liked them much better this time around.
Heralded by many as the predecessor of the Martini, the Martinez consists of Italian vermouth, gin, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters. With that list of ingredients, I shouldn't have been surprised to enjoy this one. The drink is pleasantly sweet, not cloying (despite what one *ahem* might be lead to think from the combination of sweet vermouth and maraschino), and the fact the vermouth, not the gin, has the starring role means that you can enjoy a Martinez without getting too sloshed. At least, not after just one.