A shout-out on Twitter as simple as “Trying to decide where to eat this weekend for dinner or cocktails in London – any suggestions??” led to a great night out. It might definitely have to become a ritual – ask and ye shall be told. Got tons of suggestions but, as I am a Martini drinker, I couldn’t pass up the chance to mosey on down to the Royal Academy. Belvedere Vodka had organized a pop-up exhibit to celebrate Legends of the Martini – and other than James Bond, I knew not of whom they spoke.
Liz Taylor was said to have invented the Chocolate Martini on the set of Giant. Hemingway immortalized the Montgomery Martini in his book, Across the River and into the Trees. Frank Sinatra, Greta Garbo, Ian Fleming, Noel Coward were all fans of the Vodka Martini, as are, of course, the ever-alive fictional characters James Bond and Roger Sterling. In 2005, Kate Moss was voted by the public to be the Martini Queen, the women who “epitomized the vodka martini-era glamour.” All this was news to me! I know I felt very Dita Von Teese as I climbed deftly into the huge Martini Glass. Had the public seen my picture, I think I may have had a chance at winning that crown! After one sniff too many from the official “smell pods” containing the ingredients that make up the famous cocktail, I knew it was my tipple.
The Martini Bar was all very civilized and we even had our own exclusive bartender. He guided us through the history of the Vodka Martini, starting with a selection of vermouths – Lillet and Dolin. I could easily have had one on their own, but it was onto the main event – the three most iconic martinis: the Wet Martini, Dry Martini and the Vesper Martini – any idea which is which?
I didn’t either. Wet is 3:1 – Vermouth to Vodka with an orange twist – stirred not shaken. Dry is 6:1 – Vodka to Vermouth with a cucumber slice, shaken not stirred. Vesper is a bit of Gin (1), a bit of Vodka (3) with a splash of Lillet Vermouth (.5) topped off with a lemon twist – shaken, not stirred. We were given little instruction sheets so we could make them at home. Given that I love a Dirty Martini, our bartender suggested I ask for a Filthy Martini the next time I feel so inclined – it has crushed olives in it. The drink that eats like a meal – yum. Sadly I will be drinking Martinis alone as the Cypriot is not a fan and couldn’t wait for a Dark & Stormy, his drink of choice. (The bartender agreed that a D&S was a damn good cocktail!)
Pescatori had also responded to my tweet, inviting me along to try one of their two places in London. I wasn’t planning on having pasta as I had carb-loaded on my holiday in Puglia & Sifnos, but we knew it would be essential after our drinking straight vodka. What better to follow martinis with but Prosecco and it slid down just as easily as the vodka had before them. It was all delicious and now I know where to go when I long for the Spag Lob that usually I only get in Greece!
- LEGENDS OF THE MARTINI: Royal Academy Senate Rooms, Burlington Gardens from August 1-31,
- PESCATORI: Two locations – Dover Street and Charlotte Street. A wonderful Italian restaurant in central London