Martinis and Moments

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“I like to have a martini, two at the very most – after three I’m under the table, after four, I’m under my host.” – Dorothy Parker

Where to find the best martini in London

I consider myself a fairly easy-going dinner guest. My taste in food is broad, and I’ll try almost anything twice. I’m an bright conversationalist, happy to talk about anything from Proust to the Premier League. I don’t mind if the service is a little slow – all the more time to luxuriate in each others’ company. However, there is one thing I cannot tolerate, which is guaranteed to ruin my evening – a bad martini. I recently had the pleasure of having dinner with the gorgeous Valerie Mara, and ordered a dry dirty vodka martini with, and I quote myself – “as many olives as you can fit in it”. I was presented with a glass with two tiny little olives – honestly, a travesty.

If you hadn’t already guessed, I have strong feelings about this. In order to properly appreciate the rich unctuous quality of olives in martinis, you need three – ideally Castlevetrano olives, or Picholine at a push. One to eat before, to line your mouth with olive flavour. One to eat half way through the drink, to remind your palette and enjoy the slight infusion of vodka or gin within. And one to eat after finishing your martini, to full appreciate the rich alcohol-soaked flavours. Anything less than three is unacceptable, in my book.

I won’t name and shame the restaurant where Valerie and I encountered this indignity, but it’s not the first time it’s happened. So, in the spirit of sharing, here are my thoughts on where to get the best martini in London, to save you from the horrors I went through.

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The Egerton House Hotel

All the ingredients for the martini, and the glass, are kept frozen at this iconic London spot, which makes their martinis pure perfection. They’re famous for a very generous pour, hence ‘The Egerton Slurp’ – the name given to the delicate sip you need to take from the glass before you can even lift it from the bar without it overflowing.

They also offer a Martini Masterclass, which has long been on my ‘perfect date’ wishlist.

The Connaught Bar

The Connaught Bar is home to the famous martini trolley – and honestly, it doesn’t really get much better than that. Not only a theatrical delight, this is a perfect way to try out a few different formulations, with a range of unusual herbal vermouths on offer.

They also have a gorgeous canapé selection, should you need a little something to line your stomach.

Duke’s Bar

It would be impossible to write about where to find the best martini in London without referencing Duke’s Bar. It is said to be the birthplace of the “Vesper” martini, as featured in the James Bond novels. Whether you’re a Bond fan or not though, the martinis are undeniably good, and very strong – which is why the bar puts a two-drink limit on them!

Sophie’s Soho

OK, so perhaps these martinis are unlikely to win awards, but they’re a solid choice in a gorgeous venue which is perfect for people watching. And that’s one of my favourite things to do in Soho, so I’d be remiss not to include this little spot. The martinis are also huge, and when I ask them to load mine up with olives, they always oblige – which sometimes wins my heart more than expert cocktail craftsmanship.


This is an undeniably gorgeous bar – a 1920s dream of decadent soft furnishings, dim lighting and velvet. I honestly don’t think there’s many places more luxurious to enjoy a martini, and it helps that they also are experts in preparing them. Their signature martini is described as “Salvatore‘s masterpiece using a method that he developed in the 1980’s” – and who can resist that little flourish of mystery?

Even the best cocktails are made better with good company, and I’m sure you have your own favourite spots – so drop me a line and let’s plan to try out one or two (or three, or four…).

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