This week on the Charlie Tonic Hour, Charlie and I whip up a very tasty little cocktail with three classic cocktail ingredients: gin, vermouth and bitters.
Ironically, all three of these ingredients were once considered medicinal. Despite its infamous reputation and the less than flattering nickname of “mother’s ruin,” gin was originally brewed in the middle ages as a medicine. The juniper berries and alcohol were considered a treatment for the black death. Cocktail bitters, those non-alcoholic herbal essences that are used to add flavor to cocktails, were originally used to treat stomach ailments. They were often made by physicians who would patent and sell their concoctions in pharmacies. Vermouth is less common as an ingredient nowadays and few people realize that it is actually fortified wine. Additional alcohol as well as medicinal herbs are added to red or white wine to produce a stronger and more flavorful drink. Long before the birth of the martini, the Greeks used fortified wine to treat a variety of illnesses, including stomach ailments and intestinal parasites. Vermouth as we know it today was first made in the 19th century and by the end of that century it was popular for use in cocktails. Today cloves, cinnamon, quinine, citrus peel, cardamom, marjoram, chamomile, coriander, juniper, hyssop, and ginger remain the most commonly used ingredients in both vermouth and in bitters.
So without further ado let’s put these ingredient together and try some traditional medicine. I know I certainly felt much better after drinking one.
1 1/4 oz Gin
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
3 dashes of Orange Bitters
Stir all ingredients well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. You can also leave out the dry vermouth and increase the gin to a 3:1 ratio and make a Sweet Martini using this recipe.