Smoky Martini

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Cocktail History

The Smoky Martini is a twist on the classic gin martini that introduces Islay Scotch’s smoky, peaty flavors and aromas into the mix. It’s unclear exactly when this cocktail came to be, but its invention is most often credited to bartender Dale DeGroff, who claims to have been making it since the 1970s before including it in his book The Craft of the Cocktail in 2002. And although its origin is murky, the recipe is similar no matter the version, including this one from Gin O’Clock: A Year of Ginspiration: dry gin, dry vermouth, Scotch, amaretto, and a lemon twist in varying ratios.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Gin: This is the base spirit. We chose The Botanist Islay Dry Gin to complement the smokiness of the Scotch. 

Dry Vermouth: This is a fortified wine that adds sweetness. We used Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry because it’s light and airy.

Scotch Whisky: This adds the smoky flavor. We chose Laphroaig because it’s a great, peaty Islay Scotch with bold flavors.

Amaretto Liqueur: This is an Italian liqueur that adds sweetness as well as a slightly nutty flavor.

Lemon Peel: This is the garnish. It adds a hint of citrus aroma, sourness, and flavor.

Tasting Notes

The Smoky Martini begins with strong peat aromas accented with lemon zest, starts out with a dry and slightly bitter taste, comes forward with a bit of sweetness as it sits in the mouth, and finishes with a strong earthy smokiness that lingers with a bit of nuttiness in the throat.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: This martini isn’t for the faint of heart! Kendall found it to be a little too spirituous for her; meanwhile, Alex, who loves martinis and indulges in Scotch occasionally, enjoyed this interesting twist but will probably stick to his favorite 3:1 gin martini for now.

Alex’s Take: “I thought his sounded like a very interesting and unique recipe going in, and that’s as a staunch lover of martinis as well as a general enjoyer of peaty scotch. What I got was definitely fascinating; it combined dry gin (We fittingly used Botanist Islay Dry Gin), dry vermouth’s slightly sweet notes, amaretto’s much sweeter and nutty notes, and Laphroaig’s dark, peaty smokiness. The gin taste was present but not as overwhelming as it would be in a normal martini, and the smoky Scotch was balanced surprisingly well by the amaretto, which I had thought would be out of place. Overall, this was a very intriguing martini variation. I enjoyed it, but I’ll probably stick with gin going forward.”

Kendall’s Take: “I can’t drink an entire dry gin martini quite yet, so I when I saw Scotch was added to the list of ingredients for this one, I knew it wouldn’t be for me. I still find Scotch to be similar in taste to rubber, so this cocktail was just a bit too serious for my palate. Maybe someday!”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Gin O’Clock: A Year of Ginspiration by Craft Cocktail Club.

AuthorGin O'ClockPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 1 ½ oz Gin
 1 oz Dry Vermouth
 ¼ oz Scotch
 ¼ oz Amaretto
 1 Lemon Peel

Method
1

Add gin, dry vermouth, Scotch, amaretto, and ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a martini glass.

4

Garnish with lemon peel.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 1 ½ oz Gin
 1 oz Dry Vermouth
 ¼ oz Scotch
 ¼ oz Amaretto
 1 Lemon Peel

Directions

Method
1

Add gin, dry vermouth, Scotch, amaretto, and ice to a mixing glass.

2

Stir for 30-45 seconds.

3

Strain into a martini glass.

4

Garnish with lemon peel.

Smoky Martini

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More Scotch Cocktails

If you like this Scotch-based cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Flannel Shirt: A Scotch whisky cocktail made with apple cider, Amaro Averna, lemon juice, simple syrup, St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram, Angostura Aromatic Bitters, and an orange peel

Penicillin: A Scotch whisky cocktail made with lemon juice, honey syrup, ginger syrup, and candied ginger

Brown Derby: A bourbon cocktail made with grapefruit juice, honey, and a grapefruit twist

Flying Scotsman: A Scotch whisky cocktail made with sweet vermouth, simple syrup, Angostura aromatic bitters, orange zest, and an orange twist

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