Martini in Giallo

The Martini in Giallo is an elegant yellow drink, with orange saffron strands visible at the bottom of the martini glass.

Italian Black Martinis

We’ve been watching Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy, which has been completely inspiring on many levels. It brings me back to my time there, and everything looks so delicious!

When he traveled to Milan, there was discussion of a Black Martini (though we didn’t notice him actually drink one). That inspired us over here at the Pandemic Pub, so we got to work!

Although what we made wasn’t black, Elizabeth used many of the same ingredients, like saffron. We were missing “vegetal coal” – go figure! Maybe next time; we clearly have more research to do.

OK…Yellow Martinis!

She infused some dry vermouth with saffron and cardamom seeds. We’d gotten the saffron in Dubai right before the pandemic arrived. We put it on the windowsill in a jelly jar and let it sit during the day.

Dry vermouth is infused with saffron strands and cardamom seeds in a jelly jar.

Then she mixed up the cocktail as usual. I absolutely loved the way the beautiful saffron strands floated in the finished drink! It reminded me so much of Matisse’s The Goldfish painting.

We both agreed that we prefer our dirty martinis, but this was very nice. Beautiful variation on a theme. The saffron gave it a nice flavor, and we felt oh-so-elegant sipping them.

La Signora in Giallo

I must give a shout-out to the title of this cocktail. On one of my trips to Italy in 2005 or 2006, I was struck by the wild popularity of the old TV show Murder, She Wrote. Although the show hadn’t been in production for about ten years at that point, it was as much a part of the pop culture as though I’d stepped back into 1985.

Families watched episodes over dinner and discussed them afterwards. A bookstore I passed in Sulmona used their entire front display window to showcase dozens of the paperback titles – stacks and stacks of them in the front window. By the prominent space they took up, and the quantity of each title, they appeared to be bestsellers.

Personally, as a teenager in the 80s, I was obsessed with the show, and Angela Lansbury is still a hero of mine. But those who didn’t watch may not realize that the show wasn’t based on any existing books. These paperbacks were “written” by Jessica Fletcher, the main (fictional) character on the show. They were inspired by the popularity of the show, then translated into Italian. The translated title of the show and books is La Signora in Giallo, The Lady in Yellow.

All of this astounds me, and I love it! I actually bought one of the books to help me with my Italian, though I don’t know where it’s gone at this point. I wish I still had it.

An elegant drink, for four elegant women: one fictional, one an actor, and two of us sipping cocktails at home.


  • 6 oz. Gin

  • 4 oz. Dry Vermouth

  • Pinch of saffron

  • About 3 Cardamom Seeds


  • Pour vermouth into a jar with a lid. Add spices, close up, and put aside to steep for several hours. Leftovers can go in the refrigerator.
  • Pour infused vermouth and gin into a shaker with ice. Shake until satisfied.
  • Pour into martini glasses, and settle back to watch Italian tourism and cooking shows. Toast to fictional crime solvers!
Enjoyed on September 5, 2021

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