Salvatore Calabrese got the idea for his most famous cocktail, the Breakfast Martini, at, well, breakfast. One morning in 1996, Calabrese’s wife, Susan, was enjoying her customary marmalade on toast. Impatient with her restless husband, who would not pause for breakfast, she insisted he sit down and have a slice himself.
“The bitter, tangy flavor of the orange marmalade played with my taste buds,” recalled Calabrese, a native of Italy and by then already a veteran of the London bartending scene. At the time, he was working at the Library Bar in the Lanesborough, a luxury hotel in the city’s upscale Belgravia neighborhood, just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace. “After trying it on the toast, I took the marmalade to work with me to experiment with.”
He paired a barspoon of the bittersweet jam with 1⅔ ounces of gin, in keeping with the English culinary theme. To this, he added ½ ounce each of Cointreau and lemon juice to lend the drink its sweet and fresh components, respectively. In a playful nod to the marmalade, he called the sour the Breakfast Martini.
It didn’t take long for the drink to attract notice. “It was so unique and unusual that it sparked the customer’s interest” almost immediately, he said. “So much so that people were asking for it as soon as we opened the bar at 11 a.m.” The Breakfast Martini, it seems, was indeed a breakfast Martini from the get-go.
Modern Classic Cocktails: 60+ Stories and Recipes from the New Golden Age in Drinks by Robert Simonson is available now.
- 1⅔ ounces gin
- ½ ounce curaçao
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- 1 barspoon English orange marmalade
- orange twist for garnish
- Combine the gin and marmalade in a cocktail shaker. Stir to dissolve the marmalade in the gin.
- Add the curaçao and lemon juice. Fill with ice. Shake until chilled and integrated, about 15 seconds.
- Fine strain into a chilled coupe.
- Garnish with the orange twist.
Modern Classic Cocktails: 60+ Stories and Recipes from the New Golden Age in Drinks by Robert Simonson, copyright © 2022. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.”