Archive for the ‘Martinis’ Category

Lil’ Frankies, New York

April 10, 2017

19 1st Avenue, New York

A big birthday. Time to do some decent restaurants. So New York beckoned. Home of decent martinis & great pizza. 

To keep it real we rented a place on 1st street. Not the quietest. At least we were local to this cracking place to ease our jet lag. Everything outstanding, especially gnocchi Di zucca. 


Naughty Nuri’s (2), Bali

June 26, 2016

Ribs & Martinis. What more could one want? Even includes daily fruit.

Galvin Bistro de Luxe

January 11, 2016

66 Baker Street, London W1

Back in Blighty in August. Date Night and back to where it began (kind of) – Dukes & Galvins. Easily one of London’s best bistros. This was a meal of the greatest hits. Of particular note was crab lasagne. Any meal that finishes with a Tarte Tartin is never going to be bad.


Naughty Nuris, Bali

April 28, 2015

Family Xmas hols in Bali. A true Aussie now and a visit to a themed restaurant.. but it does two things exceptionally well – Martinis & Ribs.

Properly strong martinis, with a top-up. Nice. They even come with a dance, which my son enjoyed.

Worth a trip.



Martini Watch: Sepia, Sydney

June 11, 2011

201 Sussex Street, Sydney

The growth of small bars around Sydney can only be a good thing, taking drinking away from the tacky and beer soaked ‘hotels’, but there’s still a long way to go. At the moment these small bars in the CBD only number half a dozen and their popularity does not create for a relaxing time. You need to get there early to bag a space for your group and protect it as the place begins to heave. But it’s tolerable for a brief time with a decent drink in hand.

However, get to one of these places after 7pm and you question the effort to get in. And so I found myself outside Grandmas on a Wednesday night, packed to the rafters when all I wanted was a decent martini and a good conversation with a friend. There was no way I was going in.

Alternative arrangements had to be made. I’ve always had a thing for high-end hotel bars with their mix of decadence and at their best the observations of illicit rendezvous. Glass at Hilton doesn’t quite fit the bill and then Sepia came to mind as an ideal compromise  – sophisticated, chilled and without mobs of people. It’s not just for dinner, you know.

Nice leather lounges and a suprisingly warm welcome, you’re made to feel at home . The wine list is as expected, varied and of course the classics are well done.

The Martini is a thing of beauty:

Cold, brutal and big. It settles the nerves (!) and all is instantly good with the world, with no noisy crowds to speak of.

And what made Sepia stand out even more, were the absence of corners cut, or short-changing. Many a time I’ve been served a martini where the measures are rough and small, with the bar-tender hoping nothing will be said. Here I observed my martini being made and then judged not large enough, so additional was made, before it was served. Impressive.

A martini, should never be drunk on an empty stomach and so we ordered a plate of charcuterie:

It was not expensive and again suprisingly generous. The salamis and hams were bold and gratifying. I can’t resist a good cornichon and the plentiful supply of grissini (or breadsticks) rounded off a good nibbling plate.

So all in all a very pleasant impromptu drink. I’ve yet to eat at the restaurant itself, but a place that serves such a decent drink has already won me over.

Dukes Hotel, London

June 6, 2010

35-36 Saint James’s Place, London

People talk about ‘last meals’, but if there was such a thing as ‘last drinks’, Duke Hotel would be on the list. It’s apparently the very place where the martini was invented. Regardless whether it’s true or not, it’s the place where the martini was perfected.

It’s a place you have to know about, since it’s hidden down a side street close to St. James. It may be one of the grand old hotels, but its low profile means it doesn’t suffer from hordes of tourists or glammed up townies on a night out. It’s all about quiet sophistication, where a nice armchair always awaits you.

The old-school waiters in white jackets marshal the room awaiting orders. The obvious choice is a martini. I once had a friend who ordered a passionfruit martini here and she was politely told that it was a cocktail, not a martini. As a purist it makes me smile.

There’s theatre to the martini, which is necessary since it’s arguably the simplest of cocktails. Your spirit of choice is brought to you frozen, where it’s married with a hint of vermouth in a frozen glass and a wipe of lemon. It’s magic & lethal. I believe that’s why there’s a house limit of two martinis…

This fine experience does not come cheap. £15 for a martini is pretty rich, but as a drinking experience, it can’t be beaten.

It’s my favourite place to be at 5pm on a Friday, but every other occasion as well. I came here when I got engaged, on my stag night & when I’ve reacquainted myself with old friends. It sounds like an ideal second home…

Sticky Bar

October 19, 2009

182 Campbell St

6.3opm on a friday is the perfect time for a Martini. It’s the end of the working week and everyone needs a reward and a way to kickstart the weekend. The Martini was invented for this moment (or should have been). My search for a good bar led me to Sticky, tucked away in an alley in Surry Hills. It’s intentionally a tough place to find – rewarding the discerning drinker with a New York vibe in an old-school club setting. You even have to text a number on the door so someone can let you in. It sounds annoyingly trendy, but there’s no attitude here.

Sydney Oct 028

Luckily the cocktails  do not disappoint. The charming & raffish staff know their onions and were happy to recommend interesting gins. Bombay Sapphire just doesn’t do it for me anymore. You’ve also got to love how it’s served – keeping the elixir cool. My wife, a cosmopolitan fiend really enjoyed her drinks as well.

We were early enough to grab a couple of very comfy armchairs and could have sat there all night. But after two martinis, I saw a third one looming… A third martini has always led to me doing something I regret, so we had to relinquish our seats and leave before the evening got out of hand.

This is a terrific bar. I will be back.