Now that maraschino no longer creeps me out, I'm prepared to evaluate other drinks with a level head.
The Martinez (#51) requires a different style of gin than the one most of us are used to, Old Tom. This is an older, sweeter style of gin. The Martinez also requires orange bitters. I have two kinds: Fee Brothers and Regan's, and they are worlds apart. The Fee Bros is a very sweet orange, while the Regan's is a bitter Seville orange. From what I understand, Regan's is the preferred style for the Martinez. The only place I've found Regan's is online at Kegworks.com.
This the the first drink I've had a problem settling on a recipe for, and that's because of the Old Tom. Some recipes just use London dry gin and sweeten it with sugar, others rely on the sweetness of the maraschino. Since I have a bottle of Hayman's Old Tom Gin on hand I'll use the recipe on the back of the bottle: 1 part Old Tom gin, 1 part sweet vermouth, 1 dash orange bitters (I upped it to 2) and 2 dashes maraschino. This even differs from the recipe on their own website.
The Martinez is light on the maraschino and that's OK. This time around it's a helper. Sort of tastes like a dry martini, then a deep orange flavor. The maraschino tempers the bright notes of the citrus. Dry and surprisingly herbal you'd swear there was loads of dry vermouth in here.
This is a complex drink that sets the stage for dinner. You're ready to tackle that NY Strip and sides now. Or in my case, tacos and cauliflower.
It has been a while since I've had a brown drink, so I am excited about the Red Hook (#76). Gin drinks dominate the list. Most people I make cocktails for are gin drinkers, though I secretly hope to convert them with the perfect rye drink. At least they don't ask me to make them a vodka martini or vodka Collins. That would just break my heart.
Since the recipe doesn't include bitters but the List does, I added 2 dashes of each Angostura and Regan's to recipe, which might have been a bit heavy handed. When I make this again I'll knock it back to one.
I forgot to put maraschino, and it tasted like a fancy Manhattan. I added the minimum amount of maraschino and re-stirred. The result is amazing. Rye and maraschino make really good friends. The maraschino heightens the buttery aspects of the rye. The whole drink ends with the bitterness of the Punt e Mes.
I love Punt e Mes, it's an Italian bitter with training wheels. Sweeter than Campari and candy-like when compared to Cynar or Fernet. I like Campari, but I don't think I would drink it on the rocks. I totally would do that with Punt. It has a lot of dimension on its own. Oh, while you have that Punt out mix up a Manhattan with it. It serves as the vermouth and bitters all in one.
I'm now at 55 drinks into The List. It is getting to be paralyzing to pick a drink just to have a drink. Time is a coming for me to select a few drinks that I can deploy at any time, like a cocktail-shaking SWAT team.