The Original Martini With Thyme


Red vermouth martinis used to be my thing. I think I got a lot of satisfaction out of asking for something a little more obscure. I still do. Over the past few years gin and tonics have made a resurgence as the new hipster drink du jour. I think red vermouth is about to go in that direction too. If it does remember you saw it here first.

I hadn’t had a red vermouth martini for a really long time until this past weekend. I saw the Martini Rosso in the liquor cabinet in passing and remembered the luxurious, bitter-sweet and herbaceous taste of the martinis of my past. I had to make one. I also happened to have a little thyme bush from the farmers market and because I’ve been putting thyme in everything I thought, why break the trend? It makes for a very pretty drink too.

I should warn you it is a very assertive tasting cocktail and not for the uninitiated. If you don’t typically drink gin martinis, Americanos or Negronis then you might not be down with it. I once described it as tasting like grass. I’m into that kind of thing though. Are you? If you’re into Negronis and other obscure bitter drinks then you’ll love this. Let me know how it goes.

Also, it took me an inordinate amount of time to think of a name for this cocktail. I thought about just calling it a red martini with thyme…but that seemed unoriginal. Then I thought it must have already been done so I tried to find out what others have called it. The closest thing I could find is the Turf Club Cocktail from 1884 that replaces the lemon juice and thyme with angostura bitters. As it happens that didn’t bring me any closer to coming up with a name. The I learned that the original martini was called a Martinez and made with gin, red vermouth and Angostura Bitters. Meet the original martini…with thyme.

This recipe makes two small or one very large drink.



4 oz Tanqueray or Hendricks

2 oz Martini Rosso red vermouth

A couple sprigs of thyme for muddling and a few more as a garnish

Dash of Angostura Bitters

Few splashes lemon juice + a lemon twist or two for garnish if you’re fancy like that

1 cup ice



Pour the gin and red vermouth into one or two glasses.

Add the thyme and muddle well with a muddler or a spoon.

Add the lemon juice and bitters.

Add ice.


Garnish as you please and enjoy your herbaceous, bitter-sweet and super luxurious throwback cocktail.