London Dispatch: Day 5

Too much and too little to write about tonight. Too little in that half my day was spent walking across London to pick up a huge box of Scotch for a good customer that can’t be shipped into the U.S. so I am effectively his Whisky Mule; too much in that my evening was filled with bliss at the Dukes Hotel.

After the whisky pick-up and before the Dukes Hotel, I spent a couple hours in a cafe doing some work, and I’ll have something to say about that in tomorrow’s post.

I was first made aware of the Dukes Martini when I worked in software, ironically, at a company called Blue Martini Software. Several veterans of the salesforce swore by the bar at the Dukes Hotel as the place to get a Martini, but I never had a chance to visit during my first trip to London in 2002. And as a casual fan of James Bond, I was aware that it was at the Dukes Hotel that Ian Fleming was inspired to write what’s become the most famous martini command: “shaken not stirred.”

Davidoff Geneva 100th AnniversaryFurther, since we opened the new bar at Wingtip last January, we’ve had a Dukes Martini on the menu. Admittedly, we don’t yet have a proper Martini cart, although that is on our To Do list. So tonight, I had the time and occasion to make my first pilgrimage to this Mecca of the Martini and it did not disappoint. On the walk to the hotel, assuming I would not be able to smoke at the bar, I lit up a Davidoff 100 Years Geneva Robusto which was introduced in 2011 to celebrate what would have been Zino Davidoff’s 100th birthday. It’s past midnight as I type so I can’t tell if my phone’s camera was out of focus, or if I’m just blurry eyed.

The photo is taken just outside the infamous Dukes Hotel, tucked away down a small street off another alley off of St. James. In other words, it’s a destination; no one is just stumbling into the bar there. The bar was packed, so I waited patiently in the lobby for a table to open. The Bar Manager, Alessandro Palazzi, a living legend, brought me to a table and did just about everything I could have asked for without me having to ask. Took my coat, brought me a newspaper since I was alone, offered me the wifi password so I could post my beverage photos to Facebook, and took my order.

Not-a-Martini at the Dukes HotelI wanted so badly to order a Martini, but I’m just not that into gin, so I ordered a Manhattan instead; it’s kind of like going to Peter Lugar and ordering a salad.

I expected my Manhattan and canapes to be the end of the evening, but apparently three years ago, they added a Cigar Patio (technically, The Cognac & Cigar Garden). Well, how am I supposed to say no to that? So now I’m having my second cigar in an hour (a Partagas D Series #4) with a glass of ’94 Port on the patio. It was chilly, but nothing an overcoat and scarf couldn’t cure. Warm on the outside and warm on the inside. Nice cigar, nice drink, and some friendly company also enjoying cigars.

I’m too tired to write more. Until tomorrow…

London Dispatch: Day 4

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Ami

Wingtip Founder & CEO, Ami Arad is the quintessential modern gentleman. He has distinctive taste, an eclectic style, and dresses for every occasion. Ami developed his vision for Wingtip at a young age; even back in high school where four years of speech and debate meant weekends wearing a coat and tie, he was in his element. Years of working in upscale men’s clothing stores and socializing in cigar shops, coupled with his entrepreneurial spirit, inspired Ami to develop Wingtip, a men’s specialty store and private social club.

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