The Gypsy Martini

A sweeter alternative to the classic martini.

This one is very straightforward. 

You will need gin/vodka, sweet vermouth and a jar of maraschino cherries. The following recipe is for a 150ml glass:

  • Add 3 teaspoons of maraschino cherry liqueur to a chilled martini glass.
  • Add sweet vermouth to taste (between 2tsp and 30ml).
  • Add chilled gin/vodka (between 120-140ml depending on the amount of vermouth used).
  • I would recommend that if you are using a 100ml martini glass aim for about 15-20ml vermouth and around 80ml gin.
  • Stir and drop a single maraschino cherry into the drink.
  • Serve.


Because of its sweet nature this martini could be served as a digestif instead of an aperitif.

I first tasted maraschino cherries at a very young age in the back of the Mishnish Hotel (above in yellow). A long-standing family-owned venue, a cousin sneaked me into the kitchen during some sort of gathering (a christening or wedding or something). I remember being confronted by a stern but caring member of staff who presented me with a cherry on a silver teaspoon to try before ushering me out and back to the family event. What a treat! I’ll never forget the taste.

Maraschino cherries were historically seen as a royal luxury in parts of Europe. A produce of Croatia, they have been picked, salted, pickled and sweetened in alcohol for centuries. What a luxurious addition to the classic martini.

Quite why it’s referred to as a Gypsy martini remains unknown to me. If anyone has any idea please comment below!

I also have to thank my latest martini guest CatLoud for some of these beautiful photographs. A former regular at the Mishnish, Ms. Loud is a cabaret singer (a perfect martini accompaniment) and a veteran of the Edinburgh festival. She will also be performing at the Canal Theatre Cafe in London in January.




Martini Ratings

I have come up with a simple rating system for martini service which can be applied around the world.

Using the following indicators I can assign a venue with a 0-15 rating on how good it’s martini service is.

15 = sublime
0 = devastatingly atrocious
Then divide by three for a very simple 0-5 scale.

I use the following six categories:

Temperature, the use of lemon, accompanying nibbles, service, setting and value for money.

If you read to the end you will also discover a very important secret about the whole martini experience.



The gin and glass is kept in the freezer: 3 points

Either the gin or the glass is kept in the freezer but not both: 2 points

Neither gin nor the glass is kept in the freezer but the server puts ice in the glass to chill it momentarily and/or uses ice in a cocktail shaker to chill the glass: 1 point

No effort is made to chill any part of the drink: 0 points (this does actually happen in some venues)



If the server squeezes lemon peel into the drink (or at least provides you with the option: 2 points

If lemon peel is served as a garnish only, with no squeeze: 1 point

If a variation such as olive brine, or a pickled onion are offered but a squeeze of lemon peel is not available as an option: 1 point

If lemon (or an alternative flavour-enhancing garnish) plays no role in the drink: 0 points



The martini is served with a variety of good quality nibbles: 3 points

The martini is served with either a variety of mediocre nibbles, or one type of good nibble: 2 points

The martini is served with a single, mediocre nibble: 1 point

The martini is not served with any nibbles but good nibbles are available at extra cost: 1 point (or a discretionary 2 points if they are especially impressive)

No nibbles are served with the martini and any paid-for options are standard: 0 points



The very best martini service (see Dukes bar for an example), attentive, good personality, engagement, passion for the martini and its enjoyment: 3 points

Good service, personality, engagement, care and attention: 2 points

Tolerable service but nothing special: 1 point

Bad service: 0 points



For a sublime setting, maybe with tasteful decor, a good view, ambience and a very good atmosphere with discerning clientele: 3 points

For a lovely setting, a rooftop bar perhaps, or a traditional tavern, somewhere with charm or an excellent crowd: 2 points

For a standard bar or pub: 1 point

Anything less: 0 points


Value for Money

If you thought the martini was good value for money: 1 point

If not: 0 points

For my first rating I will take Dukes Bar in St. James’, London.

Dukes Bar: 5/5
Temperature: 3
Lemon: 2
Nibbles: 3
Service: 3
Setting: 3
Value for money: 1

“A sublime, classical setting with expert martini service.”

An Unprepared Pub (anon): 1/5
Temperature: 0
Lemon: 0
Nibbles: 0
Service: 1
Setting: 1
Value for money: 0

“Room-temperature gin in a glass. Standard pub service and setting.”

But I think one of the most important things to be pointed out here is the following:

Your Kitchen (potentially): 5/5
Temperature: 3
Lemon: 2
Nibbles: 3
Service: 3 (you might not be dressed as a bartender but you’ll still be able to give your guests a personalised service which equates to 3 points)
Setting: this will depend entirely on your home, but I would imagine most people would be at least a 2. Furthermore, the rating can be increased, not just by furnishings and views, but also, perhaps more importantly, by the company that you keep.
Value for money: your own kitchen is normally the best value for money. You don’t even need to take a taxi home.

“Chilled martini with a lemon garnish served by host/hostess, accompanied by assortment of nibbles (such as olives, nuts, etc), with good company and a nicely put together home.”

So with that in mind, perhaps the best thing for you to do would be to get your own kit and drinks and start making your own martinis at home.

The quick guide to making your own martinis at home is available here.

And you can see more detailed instructions here.