The first sip of the only martini I'd ever had was memorable in that it was utterly repulsive. It was a dirty martini, the type that comes with olives that have blue cheese spilling out the sides and has the appearance of questionable drinking water. I managed 2.5 sips before I quit. I lamented how unsophisticated I was. Then I ordered a margarita.

My second martini experience was markedly better. For one, I was in Cannes at La Chambre Noir, a private lounge curated by Theophilus London, not a sketchy Long Island bar. I also had Claire Smith, head of spirit creation and mixology for Belvedere vodka, to walk me through a martini master class. 

According to Smith, many amateur martini drinkers share my initial disgust for the cocktail. "For the uninitiated, the first cocky sip of an ice cold martini can be a shock to the system," says Smith. "For the unprepared, it can be a drink that is endured rather than enjoyed."

So, how do you make downing a martini feel less like something you suffer through, like laundry, and more like the languid pleasure Don Draper showed us it could be? A simplified answer: Figure out how to make it your own. It turns out that when a martini is stirred, made with Lillet, and on the wet side (with a twist of orange), I actually enjoy it. It felt like a revelation.

Let Claire show you how you can stop hating martinis, too. 

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