Last week, with the evenings still being so glorious, The Handbook headed over to Portman Square at The Churchill Bar at the Hyatt Regency Churchill, for some post work cocktails.
Designed around and inspired by the young Winston Churchill and his love for Clementine, the attention to detail in the design is astounding. The bookshelves hold knitted animals, and family photographs donated by Churchill’s daughter; the menus are decorated with little sketches drawn by Churchill and Clementine when signing off their love letters, and the walls are adorned with art work inspired by the politician and his map detailing his travels through the years.
With the sun still shining we sat outside on the terrace where a life size bronze statue of Churchill sits as if in conversation with the guests, and took a look at the cocktail list. This too has a strong British identity to it with British flavours and gin featuring heavily, they have their own Churchill crafted gin.
With a new summer additions to the cocktail menu including the Colonial Cup and a Gin Blitz, we started with the Sloe Gin Spritz, the bar’s take on the Venetian classic, aperol spritz. Normally one for sweet cocktails, I was a little unsure what to expect when I was told this was drink was just as much sweet as it was not. I need not have worried though, it was the sweet fix I needed, whilst still being refreshing because rather than being sickly or sugary, the sweetness came from the richness of the fruit making it perfect for any time of the day.
We then followed this with the Portman Summer Cup, rather like Pimms, but we thought better, it was more refreshing and the flavours were more subtle, a grown up version if you will. Made from a Hendricks Gin base it is flavoured with The Churchill’s secret blend of herbs, spices and fruit and topped with cloudy lemonade. But it was the presentation that we loved the most, rather than being served in a tall jug emblazoned with a logo, the Portman Summer Cup is dispensed from a vintage soda siphon and guests can order a full siphon to share, or it is available by the glass.
The bar also features a menu of small sharing plates and canapés with dishes inspired by Churchill and they are definitely worth ordering if you want a little light supper with your cocktails. Whilst we drank our Portman Summer Cups we nibbled on olives, dined on beef sliders, and sampled the mini scotch eggs made from quail’s eggs, all were wonderful and couldn’t be faulted. What also couldn’t be faulted was the service, the waiters were all charming and friendly, and as soon as our olives were finished they were replaced, we were told they would keep being topped up until we said stop, very dangerous if like us you find it hard to resist! Brendan the assistant manager talked us through the cocktails, made recommendations and was more than happy to answer all our questions, even when we asked difficult questions like ‘how sweet is sweet?’ Service can really make or break an experience whether it is dining or just going for drinks at a bar, and the Churchill bar would go straight to the top of the class for service, 5 stars all round.
So we say it is definitely worth a trip to the Churchill Bar for their summer cocktails, we can’t wait to go back and experience it in autumn and winter when the heaters are turned on and the blankets are brought out, but for now, whilst the sun shines we say order the Sloe Gin Spritz and Portman Summer Cup, you won’t be disappointed.