He’d refined his martini over many years. Keen to share the result of his passion, he would serve it with pride to guests at his home. In bars he would offer his own recipe when ordering, stating clearly his preferred gin in the hope that the bartender might be a fellow martini-lover who took this drink as seriously as he did. The best bartenders acknowledged his request, and following his subsequent instructions, produced varying degrees of the exacting perfection he was accustomed to. Those not as good would nod courteously in appeasement before serving him a martini that bore no resemblance to what he’d asked for.
Walking up the steps, through the hotel doors and turning right, they entered Dukes Bar for the first time. A white-jacketed bartender welcomed them before offering each a comfortably deep, navy velvet club chair around a table near the window. “My colleague hopes you have Plymouth Gin” his friend said, knowing what was to come and casting the bartender a challenge before they had even sat down. “Of course we do sir” the bartender replied with reassuring confidence. In order to soften the barb and offer a friendly philosophical handshake to the bartender and his art he explained “Sorry, I drink martinis every day at home – Plymouth, four-to-one with Dolin, very cold with a slice. I have a reputation for being quite particular”.
The bartender smiled in knowing recognition and responded with a quiet, deep professionalism that he hadn’t experienced before. One that instilled complete confidence and reflected his own on the subject, built by pouring martinis time and again “Plymouth is a very good gin sir. Today however is not every day – today you are at Dukes Bar. I would be happy to make you a Plymouth martini but, if you will let me, I will make you something very special that I think you might like even more.”
This was altogether different – as cool and refined a response as the drink that he loved. It was hospitality as it should be and he willingly accepted the recommendation, fully knowing that the martini he was about to be served might very well be the best he would ever have.
Originally posted as part of the Gents Cafe Newsletter, a bite-sized read about men’s lifestyle to enjoy over a coffee or a nice cocktail. Join now!