Old Tom Gin - 1 oz
Sweet Vermouth - 1 oz
Orange Curaçao - 1 dash
Gum Syrup - 2 dashes
Boker’s Bitters - 2 dashes
Stir everything with ice cubes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry and a lemon twist.
This is where it all began, the term “Martini” first appeared in Harry Johnson’s “New and Improved Bartender’s Manual”. Forget all you think you know about the Martini Cocktail, because this is the very original.
(Use a large bar glass.)
Fill the glass up with ice;
2 or 3 dashes of gum syrup (be careful in not using too much);
2 or 3 dashes of bitters (Boker’s genuine only);
1 dash of curaçao or absinthe, if required;
1/2 wine-glass of old Tom gin;
1/2 wine-glass of vermouth.
Stir up well with a spoon; strain it into a fancy cocktail glass; put in a cherry or a medium-sized olive, if required; and squeeze a piece of lemon peel on top, and serve.
This is how Mr. Johnson worded, I have mixed mine in the exact same way just to see what it would have tasted like. It is very sweet I’m not gonna lie, considering every ingredient used contain sugar (except the bitters), but other than that, this classic Martini is surprisingly pleasant. I love how rich and herbal it is compared to the Martini during and after Prohibition period. Upfront vermouth and followed by gin; a light citrus note on the nose, with a hint of orange in the background; if you chose the cherry option as garnish, there will also be a subtle maraschino flavour; Boker’s cardamon flavour is quite noticeable near the end, particularly its long-lasting bitterness will add to that of vermouth’s.
- Even as Johnson himself noted, try not to pour too much gum syrup; use as little as you can, if I have to put it in an exact amount, I’d say 1/8 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon. Alternatively you can leave it out if you find it too sweet, however it does add an interesting texture to the drink.
- If Boker’s is absolutely out of the question, use Angostura or orange bitters.
- Johnson listed curaçao and absinthe as optional ingredients, you can use either or neither. I feel that curaçao reinforces the citrus notes in the bitters, and this is probably what inspired the later use of orange bitters. Again, use a very small amount.
- Old Tom is crucial if you want a real experience. I’m using Hayman’s.
- Back in the 1800s the dryer French vermouth is almost non-existent in the US, when the term “vermouth” was printed in books, it only refers to the sweeter Italian version. I’m using Dolin.
- Garnish-wise, cherry and olive are optional, if you have to use one of them, I’d say cherry is perhaps more appropriate in a sweet cocktail such as this; just don’t use the cheap, dyed red “maraschino cherry”, but an actual maraschino or brandied cherry. Lemon twist however is important.