The Intricate Japanese Rum Cocktail That Gets Served With A Cigar

There are many different countries with impressive cocktail cultures and world-famous drinks. To name a few, there's Singapore with the invention of the Singapore Sling, France with the Sidecar, and Italy with its Bellini. Still, Japan, in particular, stands out. The island nation's mixologists often go above and beyond when measuring their drinks. Something as simple as ice gets doled out with precision and care. For over a century, Japan has produced a myriad of famous bartenders and acclaimed concoctions to match.

Japan has plenty of rum cocktails for anyone to enjoy. That includes the Rum Martinez, developed by the accomplished Takumi Watanabe. So, you might be wondering what a Martinez cocktail is. Its most basic form includes bitters, juniper spirits, Maraschino liqueur, orange Curaçao, and vermouth. However, there are several variations, some more complicated than others, such as Watanabe's rum-based variety. Plus, the recipe has a complex history related to both the Manhattan and Martini.

The Rum Martinez has an elaborate heritage

As a quick detour, let's first examine the time-honored tradition of cocktails that led to Takumi Watanabe's impressive multistep Rum Martinez. The Martinez, in general, evidently dates back to the 1800s. Plus, it was almost certainly derived from the Manhattan, which is a New York combo of aromatic bitters, sweet vermouth, and whiskey (sometimes rye) — stirred, not shaken — with cherries and oranges for garnish.

Over time, the Martinez transformed from being a Manhattan with gin instead of whiskey into its own category of a cocktail. While not as popular as the Manhattan itself, the Martinez was successful enough to spawn the famous Martini. A Martini, quite simply, is gin and vermouth. It's easy to see how someone could take a look at the ingredients in a Martinez cocktail and request something simpler, prompting the Martini

Nonetheless, let's take a look at everything that goes into making this cocktail.

Making a Rum Martinez

Takumi Watanabe's got you covered — that is if you can find a bar dedicated enough to replicate his Rum Martinez. More than a decade ago, the Japanese drink-culture publication "Bar Times" posted a video to YouTube of Watanabe detailing his creation, then making it on camera. Unfortunately, the introduction is in Japanese with no translation, but we can see him perform an entire series of pours, mixes, and strains with several different unmarked ingredients, which he tops off by lighting a cigar to be enjoyed alongside the drink. It certainly looks like it could become one of our favorite rum cocktails!

To fully understand the Rum Martinez, though, we have to do some internet sleuthing. Sites like Liquor give added detail, revealing that Watanabe used 23-year-old rum, digital smoke infusers, Maraschino liqueur, toasted wood chips, and vermouth. Others, such as Broncolor, claim that the high-end drink is specifically made with 17 steps, which put to use aeration, bitters, and vermouth. Unfortunately, though, there does not appear to be a full, official recipe available in English.

What's truly behind the drink's allure? It may be the impressive mixology, its storied history, or its mysterious exclusivity. Perhaps, if you can find how to properly make it, you can be the judge.