Friday, June 15, 2012

Martinis with Judy Bentley

Visiting my friend Judy Bentley's home is always a treat. Not only is she a wonderfully talented designer, but she's a hostess par excellence as well. I love looking throughout her home as she has so many pretty things in each and every room. (And "pretty" is in fact a word that I hold in high regard.) Judy has a passion for Chinoiserie, something that is evidenced by her impressive collection of blue and white porcelain, and she loves cocktails too. I should clarify by saying that Judy loves the art of mixing cocktails- specifically Martinis- and serving them stylishly to her guests.

Judy has an inviting bar in her house that looks out upon a back patio with a fountain. It's certainly an attractive and convivial place at which to imbibe. But what's even more fascinating about this space, at least to me anyway, is Judy's collection of cocktail shakers, cocktail glasses, and sterling silver bar accessories, almost all of which are either vintage or antique. Judy started the cocktail shaker collection for her late husband, with beautiful bar tools, linens, and memorabilia having been added along the way.

Although Judy admits that her very favorite cocktail is actually a glass of champagne, she has a soft spot for the Martini. As Judy says, "When I think of a Martini, I think of the 1920s, 30s and 40s, James Bond, a groomed man in a perfectly tailored tux, and a lady in an elegant gown and jewels." How can one not like a drink that conjures up such stylish memories?

And when it comes to the question of gin or vodka, the answer is gin, of course. According to Judy, the original recipe for a Martini was one half dry gin and one half dry vermouth. During the 1940s, the proportion changed to two to three parts gin to one part vermouth. Judy prefers the two to one recipe, which I have included below.

I think that after you take a look at the photos below, you will be ready to mix yourself a very dry martini and then hit the internet in search of antique shakers and bar tools.

Judy loves the classic shape of a martini glass, and she has quite a few different glasses in her collection. The lantern cocktail napkins were designed by Judy's dear friend, Nancy Stanley Waud of Beverly Hills, CA.

Also a classic is the Napier Penguin cocktail shaker. The penguin napkins are also a Nancy Stanley Waud design.

Judy first started the cocktail shaker collection as a wedding gift to her late husband. She always purchased one for him as Christmas, birthday, and anniversary gifts.

The majority of her collection is from the Antiques Department at Bergdorf Goodman as well as antiques shops in this country and in Europe.

Judy often has the silver shaker tops monogrammed for added detail.

The silver bell shaker is a great hit at Christmas time.

Antique and vintage bar tools are also part of Judy's collection, much of which has been purchased on Judy's travels.

She especially loves to collect olive forks, picks, silver jiggers, and silver openers.

A sterling pick holding lemon, an olive, or a tiny onion is the finishing touch to a martini.

Judy loves all things Chinoiserie. Here, you have an Asian man and woman whose robes conceal bottles of wine. (They were purchased from Takashimaya, sadly no longer in business.) The oriental motif shaker is antique, while the cocktail napkins are from Bergdorf's.

A sterling ice bucket monogrammed with a "B".

A collection of swizzle sticks. No surprise that my eyes honed in immediately on the Greek Key pick.

A collection of cocktail guides, including Cocktails (Memoirs) by Amy Sacco, The Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the Classics by Jeff Hollinger, and Hollywood Cocktails by Tobias Steed, a particular favorite of Judy's.

Jockey and cap bottle openers from 21.

Quite appropriately, a bottle of Bentley's Scotch Whiskey.

Judy's liquors of choice when mixing a Martini are Tanqueray Ten, Tanqueray Rangpur, and Martini and Rossi vermouth.

And without further ado, the recipe for the Bentley Martini.

1.5 oz Dry Gin
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
Olives for garnish

Chill your cocktail glasses to the point of frost. Fill Martini shaker with cracked ice (not crushed.) Ice should be dry and hard frozen. Measure out ingredients for the number of drinks required, pouring gin first, then the vermouth. Stir until very cold. Strain at once into frosty, stemmed cocktail glasses.

In addition to serving delicious Martinis, Judy also likes to put out pâté, cheese, or Parmesan cheese wheels with cocktails. Fresh grapes served in blue and white oriental bowls are also a favorite.

Bottoms up!

Photos by Jennifer Boles for The Peak of Chic


  1. Anonymous9:41 AM

    All I have to say is great story about an incredible and talented woman Thank god that bar cannot talk.

    Her NYC boyfriend

    1. She is indeed talented! I'm sure that bar has some stories to tell....

  2. How divine for you, you can call Judy a friend. Grand post.

  3. Anonymous1:24 PM

    What wonderful images to capture all of Judy's attention to detail! This is hands down the prettiest bar in town and has my favorite bartender.
    Her Biggest Fan :)

  4. It all goes, the most beautiful bar in town, an elegant and charming hostess, and an incredibly talented Atlanta designer....I wish this were my bar! How wonderful to have this as a family tradition of gift giving.

  5. Thomas3:32 PM

    While I don't know Judy, I can tell she is a woman after my own heart- Right with her on the old style martini-

  6. I almost fainted - lol

    While I don't have access to Bergdorf's antiques department, I do have a tiny bar area in my home.

    Imagine my shock when I saw Slim Aarons' "The Kings Of Hollywood"'s why:

    Forgive the paint splotches on the wall - I had a heck of a time deciding on just the right gray (Benjamin Moore's "Natural Elements" finally won out). My bar will never match Judy's, but I am impressed as all outdoors with myself for choosing that photo - lol

    You made my day!


  7. Great post - what a fabulous bar! I often lament that people just don't serve cocktails in their homes anymore. Love her cocktail shaker collection, what a great gift for someone who enjoys the art of mixing cocktails.

  8. Anonymous11:33 AM

    Faboulous Collection! I would love to see more, updated photos and any new items added to her collection! Thank you!!