Monday, December 15, 2008
Two More London Bars
One more post regarding my recent trip to London town. While there, I had the chance to sample London cocktail culture. Not as much as I'd like, but some. I've already blogged about Dukes Hotel and Hawksmoor. I also found time to visit the Connaught Hotel's new Connaught Bar, and the Dorchester Hotel's bar.
As we stepped out of our London cab onto the posh, spotless streets of Mayfair outside the Connaught, I commented to Camper English, "Ah, the hushed sounds of wealth being enjoyed." The Connaught Bar beats anything in American for poshness. It used to be called the American Bar but was recently remodeled. (What? Are Americans that unpopular over there now?) It sparkles and shines and glitters. And that's just the clientele! The space is divided into three sections, the innermost containing the bar, an alcoholic dream in silver and glass.
Ago Perrone is in charge. Ago, Ago, Ago, that's all I heard from the time I told people I was going to London. Go see Ago. Some sort of London bartending god, is he. He served us personally, suave as could be. For the life of me, I can't remember the first two palate refreshers that were foisted on us, but they were good. I remember being brought a superlative Gin & Tonic made with Beefeater 24. That was followed up by a series of Martinis made with various bitters: grapefruit, ginger, cardomon, coriander, vanilla, lavender and licorice. I was doubtful of the potential of these whimsical ointments, and was proved right, I'm sorry to say. The licorice was downright unpleasant, the lavender too floral, the cardamom too spicy, masking all over flavors in the drink. The ginger seemed to work best.
During the last hours of my final night in London, I went on my own to the Dorchester, which was a few blocks along Hyde Park from my hotel. This is where mixologist Charlotte Voisey got her start, I'm told. Sleek and modern, its swerving, curving bar matches equally sloping lines in the seating and in the patterns on the floor and ceiling. No walking a straight line here. The bar is black, as is much of the decor, accented by pointy red glass stalagmites. Mirrors behind the bar and on top of some tables. It was relatively uncrowded when I arrived near closing time, the action at the bar dominated by a well-clad silver-haired old fox and his game, clingy, loud, young blonde girlfriend.
There were many classics on the menu, including the Blood and Sand, Martinez, Mary Pickford, and Brooklyn; some "Twinklers," drinks with Champagne or Prosecco; and Classics Revisited, new spins on old recipes. I had time for only one drink, so I chose from this page the Bourbon Cobbler: Makers Mark, bitters, absinthe, passion fruit and orange juice. It was excellent. A beautiful, refreshing drink. Fourteen pounds, yes (meaning $25), but what can you do? London has New York's hotel bar scene beat solid.