The Breakfast Martini, unlike the mysterious origins that cloak many classic cocktails, comes with a refreshingly transparent tale.
Renowned cocktail maestro Salvatore Calabrese proudly claims the title of the drink's undisputed inventor. In 1997, Calabrese, who typically limited his breakfast to coffee, faced a persuasive plea from his wife to pair his morning ritual with toast and marmalade. Intrigued by the zesty, tangy flavour, Signore Calabrese, not quite following his wife's breakfast vision, let his mixologist instincts take over.
In his own words, "The zesty, tangy flavour inspired me, and I kidnapped the marmalade, taking it to work for experimentation." Calabrese left his breakfast unfinished, as his wife expressed her annoyance with her maverick husband, and his customers eagerly anticipated the results of this flavourful escapade.
Calabrese, an Italian native and seasoned bartender in London, at the time plied his trade at the Library Bar in The Lanesborough, an opulent hotel in the upscale Belgravia neighbourhood near Buckingham Palace.
He combined a bar spoon of the bittersweet jam with one and two-thirds ounces of gin. To this mix, he introduced half-ounce portions of Cointreau and lemon juice, contributing the necessary sweet and fresh elements, respectively. While he tried to use a simple syrup as the base, the result turned out to be cloyingly sweet.
Not long after Calabrese introduced the drink to the Library Bar menu, it caught the eye of patrons, so much so that people were already requesting it as soon as the bar opened at 11 a.m. (The Breakfast Martini, it turns out, lived up to its name as a morning libation from the start.)
The rapid success of the Breakfast Martini — perhaps entirely — can be credited to Calabrese's innovative use of jam as an ingredient. While he wasn't the first mixologist to explore this territory (some have drawn parallels between the Breakfast Martini and the 1930 Marmalade Cocktail from The Savoy Cocktail Book), the 1990s saw a unique landscape where, up until that point, no one, not even Calabrese himself, had ventured into the world of preserves.
Further, Greg Boehm, the publisher of Cocktail Kingdom, also started frequenting the Library Bar in 1998. In fact, Boehm's family, the owners of Sterling Publishing Company, was instrumental in propelling the drink to popularity. In 1997, Sterling published Calabrese's inaugural book, Classic Cocktails, which prominently featured the Breakfast Martini.
Another reason attributed to the popularity of the drink is that it is extremely simple to make. Every ingredient is readily available. Although named Breakfast Martini, this cocktail is ideal as a pre-dinner aperitif or a comforting nightcap, or even during brunches. With time, numerous iterations of this drink have emerged, each bringing its unique twist to the table. From the zesty Lemon Drop and classic Vodka Martini to the floral notes of the Elderflower Martini and the rich, caffeinated kick of the Espresso Martini, the options are diverse and continually expanding.
Add the gin, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and marmalade into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Garnish with a lemon wheel.