Allow Stanley Tucci to Make You a Drink

The Searching for Italy star talks trending cocktails, the key to being a great host, and why his signature martini is always the way to go.

Stanley Tucci


It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Stanley Tucci has range. The Oscar nominee, whose career spans several decades, genres, moods, and vibes (you’ve seen him in The Devil Wears Prada, Lovely Bones, Big Night, Julie and Julia, among countless other films), is equally believable playing a deliciously jaded fashion stylist as he is a stone cold serial killer. And that’s just his acting career — the man is also a producer, director, travel host, and, perhaps most unexpectedly, a cocktail-making Instagram sensation. 

That last accolade, which began when a video of Tucci mixing a quarantine Negroni for his wife went mega-viral, is how I found myself sipping a martini with the actor in a sky-high Manhattan bar at 3 pm (for journalism). Mr. Tucci’s most recent project, a partnership with Tanqueray No. TEN, celebrates his love for entertaining, mixology, and a good martini, so you better believe that when he invites you for a drink and a chat, you say yes. 

“I like a martini,” Tucci says when asked about his cocktail of choice (it’s both his favorite to make and to drink). “It's simple and delicious.” Especially, the actor adds, when you have the right gin — naturally, he loves Tanqueray. It might come as a bit of a surprise that the host of Searching for Italy, a charming CNN travel series that follows Tucci eating his way around the Mediterranean in what is basically the best job ever, is a gin drinker. It’s a spirit that’s much more London than Amalfi coast, but upon seeing the actor in the flesh holding an immaculately chilled Vesper in a sharp collar and his signature frames, I can attest it looks just about right. 

Of course, I couldn’t resist getting Tucci’s thoughts about the cocktail of the moment (and a version of his shaken-not-stirred Instagram sensation), the Negroni Sbagliato. “With a little bit of Prosecco? Delicious,” he says, suggesting a fun spin on the TikTok favorite (just add a touch of raspberry, but more on that later). We also covered holiday entertaining, Italian food, and, of course, how to choose your cocktail. Read on for more holiday cheer.

Stanley Tucci


So what are we having?

I'm gonna have a Vesper Martini.

Oh, cute. 

I don't know. Is it cute? Can a man my age be cute? What are you going to have?

I gotta do the dirty martini dirty. Extra dirty. Talk me through your signature martini.

It's simple and delicious. If you have the right gin, you can make it right. If you don’t have the right, gin, as bartenders say, it's too hot. Right? You're just tasting that alcohol. We'd like to taste the alcohol, but it has to be tempered. Balanced. To me, that's a great drink.

What’s your favorite cocktail to drink and your favorite cocktail to make? Are they different?

No, I like a martini. I like to make a martini, I do. I like to make people blush. You know, people always go, “It’s so strong.” You're like, “It's three different kinds of alcohol. You know? What did you expect?” It's not a thirst-quenching drink. You take your time. I like that. I also like sour whiskey. And a negroni.

Speaking of Negronis, what are your thoughts on the now-viral Negroni Sbagliato?

Yeah, they're delicious. You can also make Granita Sbagliato. You know how you can do it with Campari? Well, you can do it with raspberry. And then with a little bit of Prosecco. Delicious.

What is your go-to pasta order?

It's impossible [to answer that]. Literally impossible.

Speaking of Italy, if you're traveling and you've already hit the big spots, where are you telling people to go?

I would go up into Lake Como and the Alps. It’s so beautiful. The base of the Orobic Alps — not aerobic but Orobic — the alps are absolutely beautiful. 

What is on your dream charcuterie board or antipasti? 

Oh, you know, really simple stuff. Well, I do love the Iberian ham. I mean, come on, it's outrageous. Sometimes at Christmas, we buy the big thing [the whole leg], and you can slice it. I have the [stand] thing that it goes on. Do you know that thing? That would last through the whole holiday. And people just come up and slice into it.

[How it tastes] depends on where the pig is from. I learned this in Ischia. There was this food festival from all the islands. And they had this guy come over who was like the greatest, you know, Iberian ham cutter, and he did this whole flourish and did this whole thing to music playing, which was very dramatic. But they explained to me why it tastes different from different parts of the leg. He goes, "Taste this part. Now taste it here, now taste it here." It was so interesting. They were so distinctly different. The way the flavor traveled down the leg. Because they eat, you know, they're eating nuts. And you do taste that nuttiness.

When you hand somebody that drink, their day just got better. 

What do you like about the cocktail you’re drinking right now, the Vesper? 

I’m interested in this drink because it's about the combination. You're taking gin and vodka and putting them together. It's always interesting to me because you think, ‘Was that redundant?’ But it's really nice. It's tempered by the quinine. It's gorgeous. And quinine has cinchona bark. You could look at it like a spirit-forward gin and tonic.

What would be a cocktail you would make if you were trying to impress someone, say, on a first date? Because you might want to go with a little effort, but you don't want to look like you're trying so hard.

Honestly, I would make something like that [a vesper]. Where it's like, tricky. It’s a little different. It's not tricky, tricky. It's elegant. And you want to make something that people aren't going to make for themselves. I mean, that's what hosting is. And that's also why we go to bars. I mean, we go to socialize, but we do it because we don't always know how to [make a difficult cocktail]... we want somebody else to do it. And it's fun to sit there and engage with them. So to me, I would make something like that. Because when you hand somebody that drink, their day just got better. 

Same question, but for food. If you're trying to impress someone, what dinner do you make? 


There's a risotto with osso buco on top that people make outside of Milan. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Yeah, with saffron? That's delicious. My mother used to make it all the time. Even though she was not Northern Italian. It is one of the greatest things, and when it's made properly, it's incredible. And actually, one of the things you do with that is you put bone marrow into the risotto. That makes it. Then, you have the osso bucco on the side. 

When you touch down in Italy, and you have your first drink. Maybe it's an airport bar. Maybe it's the first bar you go to at the hotel. What do you order? 

Depending on the bar. If it's a nice bar, and I know the bartender can make a martini. Martini. If not, I might just have a whiskey, like a scotch whiskey. Johnny Walker Black. 

How do you personally set a mood for a dinner party or a bigger cocktail party?

We seldom do big parties. Only because we don't have a huge house, and also we have little kids, you know? But when you do a dinner party, the table should be set. Hors d’oeuvres should be laid out. And you should be prepared. Your bar should be prepared to make people whatever they want within your, you know, range.

What is your perfect day at this time of year? Where are you? Where are you with? 

One of the things that we really like to do is — yes, you have your holiday with your family — but some people don't have family or are away from their families. And I think to have those people over to the house, whether it's Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day in England, all that stuff is really a mix of family and friends. That's, to me, ideal. Because everybody tempers one another. It's great. And that's what we tried to do. I think particularly as I get older, I have friends who are my age, maybe even older, and you know, they might not have a family anymore. And it's nice to have them.

“Make It A Martini Night,” with Stanley Tucci’s signature martini:


  • 1.5 oz. gin (he uses Tanqueray No. TEN)
  • 0.25 oz. dry vermouth
  • Garnish with a grapefruit twist

Preparation: Pour 1.5 oz. gin into a shaker with ice and add .25 oz of dry vermouth. Stir until perfectly mixed using a bar spoon or teaspoon. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a twist of grapefruit peel.

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