Classic Gin & It Cocktail

Classic Gin & It Cocktail

The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
145 Calories
0g Fat
6g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 145
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 40mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you wonder what "it" stands for, it is not an obscure liqueur or some old-style spirit that's difficult to come by. The "it" is simply sweet vermouth, a cousin of dry vermouth with a lot of character and a sweet and earthy taste. The combination of gin and sweet vermouth—also known as red vermouth—makes for a very simple and sweet gin martini that is easy to fall for, particularly if you don't like your martinis dry. This cocktail is traditionally served at room temperature and undiluted, which is another departure from the classic gin martini, but many modern versions served it chilled.

The "gin & it" cocktail has been around for more than a century. It was often called the sweet martini and has been reported as a common pub drink, first in New York bars and then in London. Its name can be found in the 1948 book "The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks," showing that this name has been around at least since World War II. Although it has fallen out of fashion due to the preference, wide availability, and variations on the dry martini, this an amazing beverage that will make you fall in love with red vermouth.

"This is the beginning of the Martini. Not the Martini as we know it, but its origins. The marriage of botanicals in gin and herbs from well-made sweet vermouth mark the dawn of mixology. This recipe will show you how well just two ingredients can express immense synergy and elevate your palate." —Sean Johnson

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A Note From Our Recipe Tester


Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Classic gin & it cocktail ingredients

    The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

  2. Pour the vermouth directly into a cocktail glass without ice.

    Pour the vermouth directly into a cocktail glass without ice

    The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

  3. Add the gin.

    Gin and vermouth in a glass

    The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

  4. Garnish with cherries. If you prefer chilled cocktails, stir it with ice in a mixing glass and strain it into a cocktail glass. Enjoy.

    Classic gin & it cocktail with maraschino cherries

    The Spruce / Mateja Kobescak

What Is Vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified wine flavored with botanicals and herbs, originally developed as a medicinal tonic. Served as an aperitif or as part of cocktails, vermouth can also be used in cooking, but because its flavor is pretty forward, it has to be added with caution so not to overpower other flavors in the dish.

Also known as rosso, Italian vermouth is traditionally sweet and brownish red in color. French vermouth, used in the martini, is dry and clear. Sweet vermouth was actually developed a couple of decades before dry vermouth. As with gin, each brand of sweet vermouth will have a different character as different herbs are used.

Make It Your 'It' Cocktail

Here is some expert advice on serving a beautiful and flavorful cocktail:

  • The ratio of gin to sweet vermouth varies wildly in older recipes. Some have equal parts of sweet vermouth and gin, and some even have a 4-to-1 ratio of sweet vermouth to gin. However, it is more common nowadays to see recipes where there is more gin than vermouth. This recipe is 1-to-2 sweet vermouth to gin. Feel free to change up the ratio to one that suits your taste.
  • Some recipes add a dash of orange bitters, which is advisable if these are the kind of flavors you gravitate toward when ordering a cocktail.
  • The odd number of cherries suggested is not just a random choice. Traditionally, you should use either one or three cherries, never an even number as it's believed to bring bad luck.

How Strong Is the Gin & It?

Like the martini, the gin and it cocktail is not a light drink, which is why it is served short. The alcohol components are not diluted by any mixers. Sweet Italian vermouth is often 15 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). The cocktail already has 1.5 ounces of 80-proof gin, 40 percent ABV, which constitutes a standard drink. Put the two together and the cocktail weighs in right around 31 percent ABV, 62 proof. That is a strong beverage, so you should pace yourself when having this cocktail.