The Breakfast Martini: a true modern classic

Philip Salter
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City A.M.’s cocktail expert

THE infinite monkey theorem says that a monkey hitting a keyboard at random for an infinite amount of time will eventually produce the complete works of William Shakespeare. Similarly, if you were to let a monkey loose in a cocktail bar, it would, in the fullness of time, make the perfect Martini.

However, in both instances there would be an awful lot of mess along the way. Messes even worse than sickly sweet Piña Coladas and the interminably dull tomes of Charles Dickens, if such things are possible.

The problem with trying to be original – in literature and mixology – is that you are competing with a whole lot of monkeys that came before you – and some are bound to be more talented (or luckier) than you. You might be the next “Professor” Jerry Thomas (the Shakespeare of the cocktail world), but the chances you’re closer to Dan Brown (the literary equivalent of a blind-drunk, blind drunk who doesn’t know his jigger from his Hawthorne strainer).

But despite the odds, some people do produce greatness. Salvatore “The Maestro” Calabrese, who currently resides at Salvatore’s in London’s Playboy Club, may have done just that with the Breakfast Martini, which was created at the turn of this century and is now a modern classic. Salvatore says of it: “The dream of any barman is to be able to immortalise yourself with a great drink that, in 100 years’ time, somebody will still talk about it. And I truly believe that maybe I have done that with my Breakfast Martini.”

Its quality comes through its adherence to the unwritten laws of balancing flavours. Its sharpness comes through with unabashed boldness; it has the citrus of the gin and lemon juice; the sweetness of the marmalade and a wonderfully tart bitterness.

But Lady Luck (or, perhaps more appropriately, Fortuna, for the Italian born Salvatore) had a role to play. Although he normally avoids breakfast in favour of a strong coffee, one morning his wife insisted he sat up at the table for marmalade on toast, which provided the inspiration for the Breakfast Martini. The rest is cocktail history.

Breakfast Martini
■ 50 ml gin
■ 15ml Cointreau
■ 15ml fresh lemon juice
■ 1 ful bar spoon of thin cut orange marmalade

● Pour all the ingredients into a shaker filled with ice
● Mix to break down the marmalade
● Shake (a bit longer than normal) and strain into a chilled martini glass
● Shred some orange peel on the top of the drink as a garnish.