straight up with a twist

Just when you thought there was nothing left to do to the martini, London’s Dukes Bar has up and done the ineffable. The legendary cocktail bar at Dukes in St. James’s has joined in partnership with London-based fragrance maker Floris to introduce Fleming ’89, a new martini crafted in honor of author Ian Fleming – who, like his character, James Bond, knew a thing or two about martinis himself. A frequent patron, Fleming penned much of his book Casino Royale at Dukes Hotel and is said to have dreamed up the famous “shaken not stirred” line as well as Bond’s classic Vesper Martini in the Dukes Bar. He was also a frequent visitor at Floris, where his fragrance of choice was No. 89, after the number of the Jermyn Street shop. Apropos then that the Fleming ’89 was was inspired by ingredients notated in the original 1951 formula book for fragrance No. 89.  After much experimentation, Dukes Bar Manager Alessandro Palazzi arrived at the final creation, which combines vodka infused with Tonka beans, chocolate bitters, Dukes’ specially-made English Amber Vermouth, Stolichnaya “ELIT” vodka and rose liqueur.  All I can say is, Oh, the things I do for England.

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fit for a queen

Or at least a Duke.  Squirreled away on a hidden close in St. James, Duke’s Hotel is about as far away as you can get from The Metropolitan on the great British hotel continuum.  Discrete, boutique, it’s been welcoming guests for over a hundred years.  There’s a whole other kind of comfort and reliability that comes from a century of buttoned up tradition.  Not that it’s stuffy in the least.  In fact, it strikes me as the perfect place for an elegant – and amorous – assignation.

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