The sweet vermouth martini--sometimes referred to as a sweet martini although the cocktail itself is not as sweet as one might expect--spins off from the classic martini with the use of sweet vermouth instead of dry. The choice gives the sweet martini a signature orange-red hue, similar to that of a Manhattan. It's a beloved martini well worth trying a sip-- or four.
Variations and Substitutions
As with all classic style martinis, too many changes will alter the cocktail and create a new drink. However, there's still a bit of play with ingredients and proportions.
- Add a single dash of orange or aromatic bitters for a more complex cocktail.
- For a sweeter martini, add an extra splash of sweet vermouth.
- If you only want a subtle sweetness, rinse the martini glass with sweet vermouth and discard the vermouth.
- Use different styles of gin: London dry, Plymouth, Old Tom, and Genever.
Garnishes add a pop of color or visual contrast to martinis, especially since they're a translucent cocktail. With such a crisp and neutral palette, any garnish can affect both the flavor and nose of a sweet vermouth martini.
- Use a maraschino or Luxardo cocktail cherry.
- Try a lemon twist instead of orange.
- Add a dehydrated citrus wheel, such as orange, lemon, or lime.
About the Sweet Vermouth Martini
The lore of the martini includes an origin as an evolution of the Martinez, a cocktail of dry gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters, but another bar claims it was their creation, their recipe including gum syrup, orange liqueur, vermouth, and gin.
With the suggested origin being the Martinez, it's easy to see how the sweet vermouth martini came to be. Over the years, recipes began to omit the maraschino liqueur and orange bitters, leaving the simple two-ingredient cocktail served today. During this time of evolution, the martini as a whole began to fall out of fashion as other cocktails rose into the spotlight, but the modern cocktail renaissance brought the classic martini family back to life.
The Sweet Life
The title of sweet martini can be deceiving; it's not that sweet of a cocktail after all. But the name helps to distinguish it from other martinis, such as the dirty martini, the dry martini, and the perfect martini. Despite this misleading title, it's worth parting ways, even if it's only briefly, from your regular cocktail to sip this sweet vermouth martini.