Breakfast Martini

I don’t go to many press events. It’s not that I don’t like getting to taste new and interesting things, or check out restaurants before they open and to get a glimpse of what they’re going to do. But I prefer to go and have a relaxing time, and to enjoy and experience the place as a customer would. Another thing that’s challenging about press events is that they can sometimes be a scrum, as anywhere where there’s complimentary food or drink involved.

That happened to me when I attended a cocktail soirée at a very posh hotel. I was personally invited by the publicist and the bartender was quite well-known and quite competent. And as I found out when I arrived, also quite dashing.

I was fortunate to get seated at the bar purposely (I assumed) by someone at the hotel, so I would be able to get a good view of the action, and maybe take some nice pictures. Ten minutes passed while I timidly attempted to get the barman’s attention. (It’s a little awkward when drinks are on the house, to flag someone down to make you one.) While I was waiting, a magnificently arranged plate of bar food was set in front of me, which suddenly whisked away before I could get a taste and given to someone else at the other end of the bar, with no explanation. (Someone told me that when you turn sixty, you become invisible. But this was a couple of years ago, before I became a fantôme.)

As I fondled the barre d’énergie I sometimes carry around in my messenger bag for hunger pangs, I noticed servers circling the floor with sample-sized cocktails, so I gave up my coveted stool to try one. French servers can be remarkably adept at avoiding customers when they want to, and these folks were pros. Not being super aggressive, I wound my way toward the servers holding the trays laden with drinks so I could taste one.

Alas, I was no match for them as they all nimbly managed to elude me just as I got near to them. So I gave up and decided it was time to leave. I thought it would be polite to congratulate the bartender on his success (in France, leaving without saying goodbye is a no-no), but he was surrounded by a gaggle of women and I had little chance of getting closer than I was, so I split. As I was walking to the lobby of the hotel, a publicist sprinted toward me, asking if I had enjoyed myself.

I’m not really one to hold grudges…okay, wait, who am I kidding? I told her I was sorry not to be able to taste any of the drink and left to meet up with Romain for a hot bowl of ramen, a little steamed myself. Fortunately, there’s nothing that a bowl of noodles can’t iron out but I’m still irked by it and now are wary of those kinds of events. Before that, there was another incident where I was invited to a restaurant opening but almost refused entry at the door by the gruff publicist, who demanded to know what publication I was going to “place” my article” in. She grudgingly let me in, but I didn’t exactly feel welcome. (Why invite people if you don’t want them to come?)

Anyhow…before I left that hotel bar, one thing I saw that they were serving were Breakfast Martinis. It wasn’t morning, but I’m sure they get their name for a dab of orange marmalade added to the shaker. Fortunately, I have no gatekeepers at home, and it was a breeze to shake one up, and enjoy in the comfort of my own confines.

Breakfast Martini
Print Recipe
1 cocktail
If you're a vodka drinker, feel free to swap out the gin for the vodka.
1 teaspoon orange marmalade
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 3/4 ounces London Dry gin
1/2 ounce Grand Marnier or Cointreau
orange twist, for garnish
1. Muddle the marmalade with the lemon juice in a cocktail shaker until the orange bits in the marmalade are liquefied.
2. Add the gin and Grand Marnier to the shaker. Fill with ice and shake until well chilled.
3. Open the shaker and strain the drink through a mesh sieve into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Hold the orange twist over the top of the drink and twist it to release the oil over the surface of the cocktail. Drop the orange twist into the glass, and serve.

A unique cocktail that includes the flavor of breakfast!

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  • Karin Pereira
    July 3, 2019 5:15pm

    …the dashing bartender, love it but the establishment sounds awful and rude. You were more than polite to leave, but I would have dared to speak my mind.

    • Karin Pereira
      July 3, 2019 5:16pm

      oh…the breakfast martini sounds just about right for any early time of the day or later.

    • July 3, 2019 5:31pm
      David Lebovitz

      Events are hard, and it’s not always possible to talk to everyone. But it wasn’t a particularly large crowd and the hotel (should be) set up for events like this. And I understand it isn’t easy passing around food. On the other hand, they did reach out specifically to me because they knew that kind of event was right up my alley, especially since I was writing a book on the subject. It was unfortunate, but c’est comme ça
      : )

      • tati
        July 4, 2019 10:43pm

        They clearly showed what they were best at! Now. i would love to hear about the noodles!

  • Bonnie
    July 3, 2019 5:19pm

    David, you should tell them you’re from “Horse and Hound” magazine à la the movie “Notting Hill”!!!
    Then they’re sure to let you in !

  • Coral White
    July 3, 2019 5:21pm

    I recently stayed at a hotel in the Marais District and was given a coupon for a complimentary “shot” at the bar. Later that evening I went to cash in my coupon. The bartender barely spoke to me even though I greeted him in French. I sat at the bar, by myself, drank the pre-mixed shot and he didn’t speak to me again. I decided there were plenty of other bars and cafes in Paris and so I didn’t go back to the hotel bar during my stay.

    • Cliff
      July 3, 2019 5:29pm

      Your experience is typical. In our trips to Paris the only thing they respond to is a firm “Vous avez toilette?”’ It basically means, “you have a toilet, right? Where is it?”

  • b grillo
    July 3, 2019 5:30pm

    how very kind of you to not name the hotel…too bad as one would appreciate knowing which un pleasurable location to forego …

    • Linda
      July 4, 2019 1:15am

      I think a bit of ‘name and shame’ would be appropriate here.

  • Alene
    July 3, 2019 5:39pm

    I do want you to know that if I drank that in the morning, I would likely go back to bed and sleep some more. Sounds yummy, but alcohol in the morning and I don’t mix.

  • Sarah N-J
    July 3, 2019 5:43pm

    MMMM. Sounds good. I love both gin and marmalade, so will have to give this a try.

  • Marty
    July 3, 2019 5:51pm

    … an observation about French service: We just returned from our annual month in Nice. We’ve returned to the same residence each year for 3 years now and have gotten to know many of the proprietors/servers/bartenders in our quartier, and they us. I’ve observed that all is well and amical UNTIL they are stressed, like with a sudden influx of patrons or are short staffed. The prevailing -customer is always right- attitude that we have come to expect in the US has never really existed there, so when under duress they have NO filter and in typical French ‘coutume’ let their feelings show, often with great flourish. Once I understood this, I could adjust my expectations accordingly, not take it personally. .. FYI for what its worth….

    • July 3, 2019 5:58pm
      David Lebovitz

      Most cafés, restaurants and other similar business establishments don’t have large staffs, as they do in the U.S. (there usually isn’t a host, buspeople, etc.) except in upscale places and the waiters do it all, hence they can get overwhelmed. So that’s a reason service may not be as prompt as elsewhere. (Although other times, yes, things can be lax.) I’m used to it and don’t usually have bad service experiences in restaurants and cafés, but this was a press event, meant to highlight the establishment and the bartender, so it was unfortunate they didn’t do a good job for the hotel or the barman they were representing.

  • Brenda Pawloski
    July 3, 2019 6:39pm

    This is when it’s unfortunate to be in the “invisible” time of life, when you wish to be served. You would think servers would figure that we have more money to spend in the middle years but maybe that is an American concept, both having the money and assuming that servers care to pursue it.

    However, it is ok, maybe even nice to be invisible in other aspects, professionally and intellectually. You are underestimated and given space to perform well. Even if no one notices.

  • Louise Yenovkian
    July 3, 2019 6:45pm

    Having no gatekeepers at home is lovely as is your breakfast martini. I have grapefruit marmalade waiting for this recipe.

  • wildbill
    July 3, 2019 6:46pm

    This recipe seems perfectly suited for the post doggie walk! I am looking forward to tomorrow morning! Thanks for the idea!

  • Cynthia Kulikov
    July 3, 2019 7:24pm

    Idiots. Once again, your genius shines brighter than the arrogant time-wasters, and I, for one, am so grateful! …and of course, dying to know the hotel. I bet a few of your readers may have guessed correctly?

  • DB
    July 3, 2019 7:35pm

    I don’t think it matters where you are in this world – human kindness is something that should be expected at restaurants/bars/cafes and in particular when you have been personally invited to an event. I’m sorry this happened to you. As a woman of a certain age, I’m so over poor behavior, Paris or not.

    The recipe is interesting and I’ll try the vodka version. No gin for me!

    • AnnieM
      July 4, 2019 1:05am

      I think it’s a true assumption that one becomes invisible after 60 but for women it is even worse, post menopausal and we disappear! On the upside we would make excellent burglars/shoplifters as even if we were seen no one would be able to describe us!

      • ProfBabs
        July 4, 2019 6:28pm

        This is hilarious…. and, sadly, so true! I am vapor. Thanks for the laugh, AnnieM, on an unusually weird July 4th in America :-)

      • Lauren
        July 5, 2019 1:55am

        Ah yes. I have often thought I should apply for a job as a spy/PI to gather info. A few years ago I happened upon the opening of some new salon or other at the Saks Fifth Avenue here and I decided to hang about and what was what. I had gone in out of curiosity and probably to use the washroom. I cannot afford to shop there, nor do I want to, but there were waiters swanning about with glasses of Prosecco and some nibbles. They managed to sail right past this grey haired person as if I were invisible. Several times. I think I came home and poured my own drink!

    • Barbara Dimas
      July 8, 2019 6:11am

      This was the perfect beverage to celebrate the US team’s win at the Women’s World Cup soccer final match this morning! Delicious

  • Deborah Silver
    July 3, 2019 7:45pm

    Paragraph 2 — quite too many quites.

    • Willy Sydnor
      July 3, 2019 9:42pm

      Quite catty of you.

    • Cyndy
      July 3, 2019 11:50pm

      Oh, I quite liked paragraph 2.

    • AnnieM
      July 4, 2019 1:07am

      I thought it was quite a good paragraph no?

    • Thea
      July 4, 2019 2:10am

      Our critic can’t tell that the “quite”s are used for cascade effect in that paragraph?

  • Evelyn Funk
    July 3, 2019 8:38pm

    I love your stories, I try all your recipes and love your books. I am hearing from others what many are calling ageism but I have personally not experienced this attitude and continue to keenly observe and look for evidence. I wonder if Romain’s experience in Paris is similar to yours because I wonder if it is more about how Americans feel opposite the French. I am not American and have never experienced what you did at the event and I have lived in Paris for extended periods. I feel that it is necessary to get into the skin of a French person. A lovely book by a French woman, Mireille Guiliano, Meet Paris Oyster, is a great refresher.

    • July 4, 2019 9:01am
      David Lebovitz

      My experience and comments were regarding the way the event was run and managed. If Romain had been with me, he would have definitely gone over the bartender and ordered drinks, and he would have also talked to the publicists and told them his thoughts about how the event was being run. He’s a lot more forthright about calling things out than I am.

      • Karin Pereira
        July 4, 2019 11:24pm

        Yes, Europeans, as in the French or German, would be blunt to say the least, its just part of the culture, but you don’t have to be nasty either, just tell the truth.

        • July 5, 2019 9:00am
          David Lebovitz

          American service is definitely different as in Europe, they don’t hover and come back to check on you frequently during your meal. (Which is find rather disconcerting.) But if you want something, you often have to flag down a waiter. And yes, people are much more blunt or to-the-point.

    • ProfBabs
      July 4, 2019 6:43pm

      After reading L’Appart (and loving every single word — twice!), I’m pretty sure that Romain would have ripped them a new one in his direct, take-no-prisoners Parisian way. Romain is this demur southerner’s hero!

      • July 5, 2019 9:03am
        David Lebovitz

        Yes, I’ve learned from watching him, how things get done. He’s pretty direct and once he took his plate of food into the kitchen to show it to the chef at a restaurant and while I was ready to crawl under the table, I saw him chatting with the chef about what was wrong with the food on the plate. The chef wasn’t angry or upset, but they were both engaged in a discussion about it. I wouldn’t have done that, but it’s a cultural difference.

        (I haven’t read M. Guiliano’s books so can’t say if that’s something she addresses, but maybe I should prod Romain to write one!)

  • wildbill
    July 3, 2019 11:50pm

    Well, I saw this too late for breakfast so I had it with a wet scramble & toast for lunch. Marvelous! I have asked Staff to add it to my regular breakfast except when they know I’m shooting.

  • July 4, 2019 12:29am

    oh, why am i suddenly recalling Anthony Blanche’s acid description of a supposed event as a “fete worse than death”?………..

    —-david terry

  • Margaret
    July 4, 2019 1:14am

    About fifteen years ago when we moved to the city we live in now, most of our family was leaving town for Christmas so we decided to check into the nicest hotel in the city on the river walk downtown for Christmas Eve. When we got there our room wasn’t ready so we sat by the pool for a few hours and waited. The staff was very apologetic and gave us four drink vouchers for the bar. We assured them everything was ok. That night at dinner they brought us both the wrong entree but quickly corrected it. We were surprised when they waiter told us the dinner was complimentary because of the mistake, but of course we accepted and thanked him. Later that night we both had trouble sleeping because of the loud music coming from a bar by the hotel. I (kindly) called the front desk and asked them if they had a quieter room as I had requested that when I made the reservation. The hotel was full and they couldn’t move us, but sent earplugs. We were grateful and told them no worries. The next morning they sent us a huge complimentary breakfast. When we checked out the next morning they said they were giving us a complimentary stay since there were so many problems, but we left a huge tip for the staff, and thanked them again. Honestly it was a freaky experience but we never lost our cool through the whole thing. Now we look back on it and laugh — it makes a great story. Even though the hotel was one of the nicest in the city, they had recently been bought by another company, so who knows what was going on, maybe management changes, a new staff? But how can you get angry, especially when people are working on Christmas Eve?

    • Karin Pereira
      July 4, 2019 11:26pm

      Agree, I wouldn’t have the heart.

  • Claudia Dawley
    July 4, 2019 2:37am

    David, you exhibited such grace at such an ungraceful establishment. If I was your mother, I would be proud.

  • sillygirl
    July 4, 2019 3:32pm

    How can they expect to “correct” things if no one tells them?

    • July 4, 2019 5:23pm
      David Lebovitz

      I actually did speak to them on the way out.

  • Mike Smith
    July 4, 2019 5:50pm

    Breakfast martini? Move over, Folgers – I think this is going to be the best part of waking up. At least on vacation. Merci, David!

  • Barbara
    July 4, 2019 7:12pm

    I love your writing and laugh at your stories. So poo-poo on them. And may I mention that New Orleans is fabulous in the winter. We have tons of plastic jewelry to increase your visibility.

  • Francesca B
    July 5, 2019 7:42am

    David, I love your blog and newsletter, have learned so much. The martini recipe sounds interesting and I will swap it out for our usual Bloody Mary this Saturday morning. If the martini becomes our regular Saturday brunch tipple I will have to find another use for the Pepper Vodka we use in the Bloody Maries. Any ideas?

  • Sheila
    July 5, 2019 3:07pm

    I love a breakfast martini made with a spoon of my lemon-rosemary marmalade and a sprig of rosemary in the shaker. Mmmm. The summertime version of a hot toddy!

  • I luv chicken
    July 5, 2019 5:20pm

    Son of a b****, um.. gun. That’s one tasty drink.
    Great for those who can’t do grapefruit.

  • July 6, 2019 2:31am

    at least you salvaged something from that! Nice martini, thank you for sharing it, wonder where it originated, maybe English given the orange marmalade, or maybe I’m just thinking of Paddington?

  • janee
    July 11, 2019 5:35pm

    My regular virgin version:
    st dalfour kumkuat marmelade, one drop of doterra ‘elevation’ essential oil rubbed around the rim, and sparkling water – sooo refreshing