How to Drink Like 007 at London's Dukes Hotel

Courtesy of Dukes Hotel

There’s no need to belly up to the bar for the world’s original James-Bond-style martini.  The bar comes to you at Dukes Hotel.   

007’s literary creator, Ian Fleming, is said to have created the immortal James Bond line “shaken, not stirred” while the regular guest was seated at Dukes Bar at Dukes Hotel on St. James in London.  Bar manager Alessandro Palazzi is a perfectionist, however, so he prefers to stir.

Palazzi serves the Dukes Dry Martini with No. 3 London Dry Gin, vermouth and a twist of lemon.  And he serves it with a movie-worthy flourish. He wheels to your seat a small bar cart outfitted with an icy bottle of No. 3.  No ice, thank you very much. Instead of using ice to chill the gin he insists on freezing gin bottles to obtain the optimal temperature without dilution. The cart also holds special Amalfi lemons from Palazzi’s homeland of Italy, and a bottle of house-made vermouth -- which he uses simply to rinse each glass before adding the gin.  

With pomp and circumstance he creates the drink before your eyes, and will gladly reveal his method when prompted. Why No. 3 Gin?  “It’s bottled at 46% ABV,” he says, explaining that it’s considered to be the ideal strength for a classic Dry Martini because it “guarantees the fullest expression of flavor.” All classic Dry Martinis rely on the juniper-forward character of London Dry Gin. In the case of No. 3, juniper is one of three fruits -- juniper berries, Spanish orange peel, and grapefruit peel -- and three spices -- angelica root, Moroccan coriander seed, and cardamom pods. It’s aromatic and balanced to a tee.

Dukes Bar is noted for custom martinis, so if you’re in the mood for something new yet something that dashing Cold War spies would approve of, Palazzi recommends his Fleming 89. Created in partnership with the London perfumery Floris -- whose “89” Eau de Cologne was favored by James Bond -- the flavor and smoothness of the martini sophisticatedly complements the aroma of the quintessentially English gentleman’s fragrance.

To add swagger to your own jigger skills, register for a martini master class.  After picking up a few trade secrets, you can mix your own martini under his expert supervision then sip your creation and nibble on canapés with your classmates in Dukes Bar’s tasseled black chairs. Now that’s a proper happy hour.

If you find yourself enjoying a few London Dry Gin martinis too many, you might as well sleep it off upstairs in one of Dukes Hotel’s sedate Junior or Deluxe Suites.  The award-winning boutique hotel often offers special rates and packages including full English breakfast and perks such as tickets to visit Buckingham Palace, or a hamper picnic in the park for two. 

Courtesy of Dukes Hotel
Courtesy of Floris
Courtesy of Dukes Hotel

Vicki Arkoff

Based in Los Angeles, Vicki Arkoff is a longtime Contributor for JustLuxe, reporting on travel, entertainment, and luxury goods and experiences. She is Editor at Large for The Awesomer, Rides & Drives, Pursuitist, 95 Octane, and Technabob, and reports for Atlas Obscura, Connect, The Daily Meal, Lonely Planet, Prevue, WestJet Magazine, Where Traveler Guestbook, Where Traveler Magazine, Baltimore Su...(Read More)

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