Do You Know Dr Oppenheimer Made Famously Intense Martinis?
Image Credit: Los Alamos Historical Society

Dr Julius Robert Oppenheimer is famously known as the Father of the Atomic Bomb, and for quoting a verse from the Bhagavad Gita after his first nuclear weapon testing in 1945. With Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer movie hitting global screens this week, the man behind the Manhattan Project is taking centrestage again for his trademark emaciated look (which actor Cillian Murphy has recreated with an extreme diet), his contributions to the world of physics and so much more. But did you know that Oppenheimer was famous for making intense Martinis

The American nuclear bombs that were dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 were created under the Manhattan Project led by Major General Leslie Groves and Oppenheimer at a secret lab in Los Alamos, New Mexico. As the movie Oppenheimer also depicts, the families of the scientists and military men involved in the project also stayed in Los Alamos. And it is here that Oppenheimer’s love for intense Martinis—not only for private consumption but also served to guests—first came to be known. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Steve The Bartender

Oppenheimer’s Legendary Martinis: Evidence From History 

Contemporary reports suggest that as the Manhattan Project progressed, Oppenheimer’s diet consisted of three things: Coffee, cigarettes and very strong Martinis. Richard Rhodes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making If The Atomic Bomb, wrote in his 1986 book that Oppenheimer was “usually empty stomach” and had a penchant for “highly praised Martinis and highly spiced food.” Anecdotal evidence from Oppenheimer’s contemporaries also support the same. 

In fact, it is even reported that guests at Oppenheimer’s home found the intense Martinis he made a bit too much to take. Pat Sherr, the wife of a Manhattan Project physicist Rubby Sherr, reported that Oppenheimer “served the most delicious and coldest Martinis.” When British physicist Sir Rudolf Peierls visited Los Alamos during World War II, he and his wife Genia were invited to dinner at the Oppenheimers’. The dinner, Peierls revealed, began with a few rounds of Oppenheimer’s famous Martinis. 

For this British colleague of Oppenheimer’s, as for many of his guests, the mixture of Oppenheimer’s intense Martini recipe and the high altitude of Los Alamos created such a heavy load that Peierls was famously taken aback and sick. “After dinner, we had great trouble getting up from the table and walking home,” Peierls is quoted to have said in his memoirs, Bird of Passage: Recollections of a Physicist

All About Oppenheimer’s Famous Martinis 

Paul Lewandowski, an American veteran and writer, wrote in 2015 that the Martini grew in popularity in the US during the Prohibition era of 1920-1933. Created as the iconic “bathtub gin” which was served at speakeasies in the 1930s, not only Oppenheimer, but others of the same generation also had a penchant for drinking Martinis, including Winston Churchill, Franklin D Roosevelt, Alfred Hitchcock and Humphrey Bogart. Most of these famous people also had their own recipe for their favourite Martini, and so did Oppenheimer. 

The traditional Martini is supposed to be two parts dry gin to one part vermouth, without garnishes. In the 1940s, Martinis grew stronger still, so much so that Hitchcock famously made his with five parts dry gin and one part vermouth. In Oppenheimer’s case, his Martini recipe was tailored by his circumstances—getting all the supplies for Martinis at Los Alamos, while on a secret nuclear project, was difficult to say the least. So, Oppenheimer’s famously intense Martinis were made of dry gin, only a dash of vermouth, and garnishes of lime and honey. Here’s Oppenheimer’s Martini recipe for you to try out. 


4 ounces dry gin 

½ tsp dry vermouth 

Lime juice 



1. Place ice cubes in a glass and chill it properly.  

2. Add the gin and vermouth and stir until the alcohol is also chilled. 

3. Meanwhile, dip the rims of Martini glasses into equal parts of lime and honey. 

4. Chill the glasses in a refrigerator.  

5. Strain the gin and vermouth mixture into the chilled Martini glasses and serve.