For a perfect London experience, I recommend you take yourself to the bar at Dukes. A charming Italian silver fox of a head waiter will find you a table in the wood-panelled, low-lit room. A second, younger (but no less handsome) waiter will bring you a bowl of olives, another of crackers and a third of nuts. He will request your order. You will order a martini.
There are many possible variations. You can select from a wide range of gins and vodkas. I once had a rose petal martini. Compulsive Cook is a fan of the truffle martini (an acquired taste, to be sure). Being a purist, I always order a gin martini, Tanqueray for preference.
Your waiter will bring a trolley to the table with frosted glasses, lemon, vermouth and gin. With an expert twist of his wrist he will assemble your martini and present it to you.
You will sip your martini and eat an olive. Another sip and a salted macadamia. Two more sips and you realise you can’t feel anything below the waist – but you’re in a state of bliss and you don’t care.
One martini is usually enough to set you up for the evening. If you’re feeling particularly strong, two martinis will set you up for the night. Dukes has a two-martini limit, incidentally, owing to their ferocity (martinis’ not hotel’s). I wouldn’t care to speculate what might happen if a person had more than two martinis, but I heard about a girl who had four (she was very sad that evening) and saw a mouse. This was just before the two-martini rule was instigated. I wonder what happened to that girl.