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.





What to do if you find martinis too strong

Don’t worry, this is a common problem.

First of all, make sure you’re using good quality ingredients

Is the gin cold enough? 

Temperature is absolutely vital when making a martini. Ideally the gin should be stored in the freezer for at least 8 hours prior to use. I keep it there all the time. I keep the glasses in there too.

Have you squeezed lemon peel into the glass? This isn’t just a gimmick. The fresh flavour helps cut through the alcohol.

Try a dirty martini. This is a simple classic martini with olive brine added to taste. The non-alcoholic brine can help take the edge off the alcohol.

Finally, for beginners or even seasoned drinkers, there’s nothing wrong with ordering or making a martini which uses sweet vermouth instead of dry. Martini bianco is absolutely fine for this and really takes the edge off the drink.

Anyone who complains that this is not a real martini should look back at the history of the drink. Originally all martinis were reportedly made with sweet vermouth.

Additionally, for more regular martini drinkers. I find that if you use sweet vermouth instead of dry vermouth you can actually use less of it, and therefore have more gin, providing you with a stronger drink that allows you to taste the gin with more purity.

Some experts have sniffed at this notion but I have tried and tested it numerous, numerous times on a wide range of drinkers with various experience levels and the results were almost completely unanimous. So there you go.

So, in summary, if you think martinis taste too strong for you, make sure the gin is cold enough, don’t skip the lemon peel, consider drinking it “dirty” and try mixing it with sweet vermouth instead of dry.

Then you should be ready to join the rest of us.