Meet The Martini's Cool Older Cousin, The Turf Club Cocktail

If you're into gin, and you're into vermouth, then chances are a classic dry martini is up there among your very favorite cocktails. A storied drink whose exact origins are shrouded in mystery, the martini, as we know it today, likely came into being around 1905, according to A straightforward mix of London-style gin, dry vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters stirred with ice and then strained into a chilled cocktail glass, the martini has spawned many descendants — including its popular vodka version, in which the spirit subs in for gin — but it also has a few predecessors, too.

One of those is the Turf Club, which Difford's Guide explains might have been the first cocktail to combine gin and vermouth. Dating back to at least 1884, the drink consists of gin, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and absinthe, as well as orange in the form of bitters or a slice of the fruit. If you love martinis but are looking to mix things up a bit, this might be the drink for you.

A tasty cocktail with origins in gentlemen's clubs

As recalled by Difford's Guide, the Turf Club cocktail was first stirred up at "gentlemen's clubs" across the United States: Refined turn-of-the-century meeting places typically featuring a bar and restaurant, where men spent time chatting, doing business, and gambling. Colloquially known as turf clubs, since many horse racing bookies or "turf accountants" tended to hang out in them, these dens inspired the name of the Turf Club, which was served at such establishments as early as 1884.

In that year, the earliest published recipe for a Turf Club appeared in George Winter's "How to Mix Drinks: Bar Keepers' Handbook," calling for Old Tom gin, Italian vermouth, and a few dashes of bitters. Later versions added maraschino liqueur, which is a liqueur distilled from cherries (via Food & Wine), and earthy green absinthe, as well. A classy cocktail that's a fun departure from the standard martini, the Turf Club might just be the drink you'll want to sip as you prepare dinner tonight.