The 3:1:1 Family of Martini-style Cocktails

A Roma Cocktail, with three strawberriesI have been hard at work researching Martini-style cocktails. It's been grueling, to be sure. You simply can't imagine the variety of cocktails that can reasonably be called Martini-style!

By Martini-style cocktails, I am being very specific. I do not refer to Appletinis and Chocolatinis and Pomegranatinis and Pepperonipizzatinis - no sirree. Consuming even a single one of each of those could well prove lethal. For this research I am restricting my definition to be:

  • a cocktail served straight-up in a cocktail glass
  • it is mixed with iced and strained
  • the base liquor is gin
  • it includes only dry and/or sweet vermouth as a mixer
  • it can include up to 3 dashes Angostura or orange bitters
  • it can have a reasonable garnish

Kup's Indispensable CocktailEven within that seemingly narrow class there is a great range of options, and they are not (contrary to what you might expect) so similar as to be essentially indistinguishable.

That brings me to the 3:1:1 family. According to a book that Richmond gave me, and supported by my old friend Mr Boston, I find a curious phenomenon. There are many, many recipes that call for gin mixed over ice with equal proportions of Sweet and dry Vermouth. I never see this in bars today, but in the literature there are many recorded recipes with this peculiar feature that Sweet and Dry Vermouth in equal proportions form an essential part of the cocktail.

How long has this been going on?! What have I been missing all these years?! What bewitching potion is formed by mixing those staid standbys of the classic Martini and the Manhattan in equal quantities?

Even within that huge clan of cocktails that use gin in various proportions to a mix of equal part sweet and dry vermouth, there is a family of not fewer than 8 cocktails that call for 1 1/2 oz Dry Gin to 1/2 each Sweet and Dry Vermouth.

(All my researches use Martini and Rossi Dry Vermouth and Martini and Rossi Sweet Vermouth. Things might be very different with a different brand.)

It's like this:


Name Gin Dry Verm Sweet Verm  A-Bitters O-Bitters  Garnish 
Crocker   1.5 .5 .5  -  -  -
Farmer's 1.5  .5   .5 2d  -  -
Merry-go-Round  1.5 .5 .5   -  - olive & twist
Kup's Indispensable  1.5  .5 .5  1d  -  -
Wild Rose   1.5 .5 .5   1d  1d  -
RCA Special  1.5  .5  .5  -  2d orange peel
Rolls-Royce  1.5 .5 .5    2d of Benedictine  -
 Roma  1.5  .5  .5  -  -  3 strawberries shaken in



Carpano Antica

Carpano Antica is a pricey sweet vermouth from an 18th century recipe. It has decided vanilla notes to it, which makes it interesting but not always delicious. I have found it a fine match for Nashoba Perfect 10 Gin and plan to try it with Cold River Gin and Karner Blue Gin at my first opportunity.

Note that Carpano Antica is pricey, but not as pricey as it looks. It comes in a 1-liter bottle, 33% bigger than the familiar 750-mL bottle. Considering how little you use, the little extra investment lasts a long time.

further research: different Vermouth

I mentioned above:

(All my researches use Martini and Rossi Dry Vermouth and Martini and Rossi Sweet Vermouth. Things might be very different with a different brand.)

I had a chance to test that hypothesis (strictly in the interest of science, of course!) last week at a restaurant in Jaffrey, NH.

The bartender there uses Stock brand dry and sweet vermouth. I don't usually care for Stock, finding it to have little flavor. On the other hand, Lorna occasionally enjoys dry vermouth on the rocks as an aperitif, and for that use the M&R is quite delicious. For a modern extra-dry Martini you use so little that it makes little contribution to the flavor.

But cocktails like those above, the vermouth is a much more significant player, so a leaner vermouth might work better. That's the hypothesis, anyway.

It worked. I had her mix up what she referred to as a Perfect Martini, but which was exactly the proportions of the Crocker above (3:1:1, no bitters, no garnish). It was very tasty, much more so than the much heavier Martini and Rossi verison that I first wrote about.

Another solution might be to make the same thing at 8:1:1 (2oz:1/4 oz:1/4 oz) with the Martini & Rossi vermouths, to see if it is simply a matter of the full flavor of the vermouths, or if that would throw it out of balance. Your humble researcher will investigate and report.