Breakfast martini—it sounds like an oxymoron, a disaster, or the title of a chapter from Frank Sinatra’s life story. But it’s actually quite an elegant cocktail that works any time of day, especially on National Martini Day.
The breakfast martini—a blend of Bombay Sapphire gin, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, and orange marmalade—was created at the Lanesborough Hotel's Library Bar in London by Italian-born mixology maestro Salvatore Calabrese in 1997. He explains that it was inspired by the orange marmalade that he and his wife enjoy with their breakfast. While most morning tipplers were accustomed to having their morning drinks made with vodka or Champagne, and jams/jellies were far from a common cocktail ingredient at the time, he recalls that, “People were intrigued by the idea and pleasantly surprised by the texture and flavor of the drink.” It is now recognized as a contemporary classic, according to drinks writer Robert Simonson’s Modern Cocktails of the Cocktail Renaissance.
The breakfast martini is served at the Playboy Club in London, where Calabrese crafted a 13-page cocktail program, and at Bound, the chic, clubby cocktail lounge he created at the Cromwell Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. It’s the perfect beverage for a 24-hour town with adventurous tastes and it’s popular with more than just the customers nabbing a pick-me-up on their way from the tables or to the pool. One Cromwell bartender said it was his favorite item on the menu. Another concurred, saying, “If I were drinking at this bar, it’s what I’d be drinking.”
The breakfast martini is a libation that has an instant appeal. Chilled, but not icy cold, the combination of marmalade and Cointreau create an orange flavor that has depth, both in taste and texture. The gin leaves a nice little glow and the sugar offers a subtle boost that’s welcome anytime.
Calabrese points out that the breakfast martini isn’t just for the a.m. hours. “The drink pairs well with savory flavors and can be enjoyed any time of the day,” he says. Is there any other morning drink he favors? “Occasionally I enjoy a light bloody mary or Campari and orange. But generally I start the day with a good Italian espresso!”
Fittingly enough, Vegas night owls can stave off their wake-up hour with his espresso-centric menu of drinks, served in a frozen moka pot, with names like “Keep Me Awake, Bro” and “Never Say Goodnight.” Bound closes 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends, so a noon-time breakfast-themed cocktail seems just about right.
Imbibe magazine shares Calabrese's recipe for the breakfast martini.
Lissa Townsend Rodgers moved from New York City to Las Vegas over a decade ago in search of a place where both bourbon and bacon-egg sandwiches are available 24-7. By day, she is a senior writer for Vegas Seven magazine. By night she can be found fighting injustice and leaping tall neon signs in a single bound or sitting on her couch watching Kojak reruns.