A guide to the world’s best martinis

Food & drink

A guide to the world’s best martinis

In honour of International Martini Day, we're pouring one (or three) out for the best martinis at hotel bars around the globe.

Kate Weir

BY Kate Weir19 June 2016

Bottoms up! It’s International Martini Day, so to celebrate this iconic drink and its enduring popularity we’re poring over the hotel bars that serve the strongest and most stirring. But, do you take yours straight up? With a twist? Dirty? Don’t answer that…

Whether you want a three-martini lunch or a five-martini evening, we’ve found the best hotel bars to clink conical glasses in.

Drink a Churchill dry martini at…
Oddfellows on the Park’s Galloping Major Bar

A stiff drink for a stiffer upper lip. For Winston Churchill’s visit to Prohibition-era America, the wartime prime minister’s doctor supplied him with a note prescribing unlimited alcohol for medicinal purposes. Fair warning that this eye-watering concoction – pure gin tempered only by melting ice cubes – is for those made of stern stuff.

This is the ballsiest pick from Manchester hotel Oddfellows on the Park’s impressive martini menu, and the Galloping Major Bar feels like a suitably eccentric setting for such a Brit-honouring drink. Just try not to pratfall off one of the stylish brass bar stools after downing a couple.

Martinis at Continentale hotel, Florence, Italy

Drink a Vesper martini at…
Continentale’s rooftop bar

This style of martini cemented the drink’s rep as a soiree-starting sophisticate. Famously James Bond’s tipple of choice (although, with three parts gin, one vermouth and a splash of lillet, we advise against heavy-duty spy-work after a few of these) and imbued with retro glamour, this is our choice for stylish swilling, or throwing in a cad’s face – if required…

Tuscan stay Continentale’s open-air bar, which attracts a Vogue Italia’s worth of svelte young things and overlooks all the bits Florence likes to boast about, is an agreeable backdrop for a black-tie drink.

Drink a lemon drop at…
Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor’s Martini Lounge

It’s hot – sultrily so – and you’re as drowsy as one of the glossy green fronds on Angkor’s many palm trees. You’ve trekked round temples (and enacted your best Lara Croft impression), you’ve wolfed down sweet-sticky pork and palm-sugar-drizzled coconut-rice balls and now, you’re starting to droop…

Then, with impeccable politeness – and ignoring your moistening brow – the barkeep at Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor’s Martini Lounge hands you an iced glass, into which Absolut Citron vodka and lime juice have been freshly shaken and strained. It’s tart and refreshing and soon you’re as cool and collected as the bar’s collection of Buddhas.

Cacao Martini at Boucan by Hotel Chocolat

Drink a Fresh Cacao Martini at…
Boucan by Hotel Chocolat’s Boucan Restaurant

This jungle-y hotel on paradise isle St Lucia gets a little fruity with the martini’s tried-and-tested formula: a dash of Campari here, a slug of fresh watermelon there – both experiments with a punch-packing payoff. However, for a high that exceeds the Petit Piton peak the hotel’s villas gaze out at, order the Fresh Cacao Martini.

As the source of Hotel Chocolat’s addictive treats, the hotel’s cacao is freshly pulped from the tree. It’s then muddled with soursop, vodka and lemon verbena to make the edgiest, hottest chocolate drink around.

Drink whatever the hell you want in…
Your room at QT Sydney

QT Sydney is a distillate of Sydney’s cool, cheeky side – servers in burlesque costumes, equally theatrical dining, and down-the-rabbit-hole decor make it a bona-fide hotspot. The bar may be filled with movers and shakers, but there’s a fair bit of jiggling going on in the rooms, too. Each is equipped with a DIY martini kit, so you can do a little shimmy as you shake up a couple cocktails.

The serving suggestion is an espresso martini (a pair of coffee capsules are left on the bar tray), but this is a chance to get a little dirty, by adding a dash of olive brine, or to bring out your inner ‘porn star’ with a juicy slug of passionfruit purée. It’s your call, and, whether you shake, stir or shoot straight from the bottles: it’s for your eyes only.