[MARTINI & I] The Writer: Karen Tee

Karen Tee, the writer


The final story in our "Martini & I" series, freelance journalist and writer Karen Tee walks us through her relationship with the martini and its variations. Whatever your story is with this classic cocktail, simple or epic, create more martini moments with us @ponycocktails #martiniandi 

The martini and I are in a long-term relationship. The first cocktail that I ever fell in love with was the lychee martini back in the 2000s when this syrupy sweet confection was THE drink to be seen with. It made me feel so grown up to walk into a bar and order a “proper” cocktail that still came garnished with a juicy lychee to satisfy my sweet tooth. Next came Cosmopolitans (not a martini, strictly speaking, but it is served in a martini glass!) when I, like many other young women, became enthralled with the glitz and glamour of New York City as it was lovingly portrayed in the TV series Sex and the City.

Karen working on her phone with a martini at hand

I’ve since imbibed all sorts of martinis but the one that I rely on for inspiration when I am on a deadline is the espresso martini. That hit of caffeine awakens the senses while the alcohol smoothes out the rough edges and narrows my focus, so that all that matters at that moment are the words that I am typing. Of course, there’s a fine line that a writer needs to tread — too many cocktails and you will wake up to a Word document that doesn’t make any sense at all, instead of that stroke of eloquent genius you were hoping for. And that is exactly why the martini, strong, unadulterated and meant to be sipped and savoured, is the perfect writer’s drink in my book.

Karen Tee with her martini


These days, my poison of choice is the Vesper martini. On a trip to the legendary Duke’s Bar in London, the watering hole of choice for James Bond author Ian Fleming. Of course I ordered the (in)famous Vesper. There, the making of the drink is a part of the ritual. A bartender ceremoniously rolls a trolley to your table, rinses your chilled glass with a dash of vermouth before measuring out the gin and vodka, both of which are so cold, they flow like molten lava into your glass. And when I took my first sip of the ultra-chilled, ultra-dry concoction, the clean, smooth flavours of the drink awakened my palate like no other. The Vesper, I just know, will be forever.

In Singapore, I can honestly say that Live Twice does the best version of the Vesper I’ve ever found in the Little Red Dot. Shaken or stirred? Well, I leave that up to the bartender to decide what’s best — and if I like it, you can bet I’ll be back for more.




Karen Tee is a freelance journalist and writer who contributes regularly to publications such as Channel News Asia Lifestyle, The Peak, and South China Morning Post.

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