Mixing the perfect martini at Dukes Hotel, London

Wednesday 04 May 2011
zoocha-admin

Standing behind the famous Dukes Hotel cocktail trolley, immaculate in a white tuxedo, is Alessandro Palazzi, head barman and maestro of the martini. He and his team mix up to 200 martinis a night in this luxurious but discreet 5-star St James’s hotel tucked behind Green Park. We're lucky enough to be taking part in Alessandro’s Martini Masterclass in which 6 guests are tutored to produce drinks of superb quality and lethal strength. Making and drinking the cocktails is great fun, but for me it is Alessandro’s consummate grace, passion for his trade and anecdotes of cocktail lore and London society that give the experience its real twist. It was here at Dukes that James Bond author Ian Fleming came to drink and where Bond’s famous, and unusual, preference to have his martini ‘shaken not stirred’ was born. Unusual, we learn, because shaking with ice actually waters down the drink and will alter the flavour of the liquor. Not that this bothers Alessandro, whose lack of pretension is as refreshing as the drinks he serves. For him, ‘whatever you like is right’; what’s much more important is the quality of the ingredients. Use a frozen glass, organic Amalfi lemons, olives from Puglia and high quality spirits. My favourite drink of the six or so cocktails we sampled was a vodka martini (the classic martini is made with gin) mixed with Alessandro’s favourite vodka, Chase, which is distilled in England and was voted the world’s best in 2010. Needless to say, it was delicious: strong but extremely smooth and wonderfully cold. To book a martini masterclass costing £85 (including canapés) per head, check out the Dukes website.

Latest Blogs

Get a taste of luxury at London Craft Week

Read more
Arumjigi
Get a taste of luxury at London Craft Week

Britain's inspiring places for poets

Read more
Anne Hathaway's Cottage
Britain's inspiring places for poets

10 of Britain's best spring gardens

Read more
Gardens to visit in England
10 of Britain's best spring gardens

Take on Britain's best cycling routes

Read more
Take on Britain's best cycling routes

5 quirky places for a romantic getaway in Britain

Read more
Stay in the Pineapple
5 quirky places for a romantic getaway in Britain