Looking for a new drink that mixes the frontier spirit with Jazz Age naughtiness and even a dash of your choice of modern enhancement? Gin‘n’It just may be it.
The drink’s evolution went something like this. The Manhattan, with rye whiskey, was the first of the vermouth and spirit cocktails. From it came the Martinez, a variant offered to gold prospectors in 1880s California. The new drink replaced the Manhattan’s rye whiskey with Old Tom, a sweet type of gin, but it kept the sweet (red) vermouth quotient. The Dry Martini was born when dry gin and dry (white) vermouth were introduced. Logically, the version with red vermouth was called a Sweet Martini. (Today’s notion of Dry Martini, meaning with very little vermouth, wouldn’t arise for decades.)
The In Crowd during the Roaring 20s was ordering dry gin and sweet vermouth by calling for Gin‘n’It. “It” was short for “Italian vermouth” as Piedmont was the typical source of red vermouth (or so one hoped, this was Prohibition after all). It’s purely coincidental that “it” was also early Hollywood slang for effortless sex appeal, as in the phrase “the it girl.” Nevertheless, the mix of gin and sweet vermouth had that same sense of insouciant allure, exciting without ever trying too hard. It still does.
Don’t approach Gin‘n’It as you would a Dry Martini—either in the mixing or the drinking. It would be silly to only whisper vermouth to this drink. Try it first with a 50:50 ratio and then pare down the aperitif from there—if you wish—to 2:1, but certainly not past 3:1. And don’t gulp. Taste the give-and-take between the stolid gin and the flirtatious vermouth. This is also a place where exploring the many choices in red vermouths pays off. After you’ve tried all the traditional Italian versions, give the many new craft aperitifs from America a go. Maybe it’s not literally Gin‘n’It, but you’ll find it still has “it.”
2 oz. dry gin
2 oz. sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Lemon or orange twist
In a mixing glass (or tall, glass pitcher), pour gin and vermouth over ice. Stir well. Strain into a cocktail glass. Add garnish.