The Handbook has somehow got lost in space and time, landing in the 1900s. The only way back to the present day is to eat and drink our way through the decades, one at a time. Join us on a century-long bar and club tour and tick off how many decades you’ve visited along with us.
What: 1900s - Palm Court, The Ritz
Why: We start our journey as Queen Victoria ends hers, the Empress Queen died in 1901, just too early to see the iconic Ritz Hotel open on the opposite side of Green Park in 1906. What more pleasant way to start a jaunt through time than afternoon tea in the hotel’s Palm Court, there’s even a harpist to accompany your sipping. The hotel has been fully restored to the glory of its original Louis XVI styling and visitors can’t help being impressed by the palatial decor and turn-of-the-century lavishness. Finish your cucumber sandwiches, we’re off to the 1910s.
Where: 150 Picadilly, Green Park, W1J 9BR
What: 1910s - The Bloomsbury Hotel
Why: As we hit the next decade the so-called Bloomsbury Group of writers and thinkers are hitting their stride, with members including Virginina Woolfe, E.M.Forster and John Maynard Keynes about to stamp their mark on the rest of the century. Their views on everything from economics and art to feminism and sexuality would change the world. The group met in various houses and museums around Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury, so where better than to check into The Bloomsbury Hotel? The luxury hotel has various call-backs to the group including the Dalloway Terrace, named after Woolfe’s most famous literary creation Mrs Dalloway, as well as the Bloomsbury Bar adorned with Bloomsbury Group art and literature with the group even immortalised in the cocktail menu. A Katherine Mansfield anyone?
Where: 16-22 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN
What: 1920s - The Savoy
Why: We’ve made it to the ‘Roaring Twenties’. Across the pond the Americans banned alcohol in 1920 and Harry Craddock allegedly served the last legal drink in America before jumping on the first ship back to London where he became the most famous Savoy barman heading up the American Bar. The American Bar is an exquisite example of the Art Deco style that the 1920s is renowned for, where the post-war glammour and oppulance mingle with jazz and cocktails to evoke a particular sense of an age of grandeur. And for even more grandure head upstairs to the Beaufort Bar, complete with a stage once played by George Gershwin, ‘S Wonderful!
Where: The Savoy, Strand, London
What: 1930s - Evans & Peel Detective Agency
Why: Thirteen years of alcohol prohibition in the United States came to an end in 1933, but the legacy of speakeasies and drinking dens continued. Evans & Peel’s Earls Court prohibition-style bar faithfully recreates the 1930s, a speakeasy disguised as a detective agency, or is it vice-versa? With period decorations and features and a brilliant array of cocktails you’ll feel right at home in the 1930s, but the forties is just around the corner.
Where: 310c Earls Ct Rd, Earls Court, SW5 9BA
What: 1940s - Cahoots
Why: We’re nearly half way back to the modern day so keep drinking! Which is fine because G&Ts as well as GIs are de-rigeur down at Cahoots, a 1940s themed bar where visitors to the Kingly Court club descend into a mock tube station and make the most of post war Britain. Set immediately after the Second World War the club is unaffected by rationing as Cahoots provides all manner of black market goods from pastries to cocktails all accompanied by a classic knees-up round the piano. Get your demob suit on!
Where: 13 Kingly St, Carnaby Street, W1B 5PG
What: 1950s - 69 Colebrooke Row
Why: The Ratpack are playing on the radio, with strains of Sinatra signalling we’re now in the 1950s. The fifties was a decade of Hollywood glamour and progress, the jet age and the babyboomer. At 69 Colebrooke Row, the Italian style cafe in Angel, we visit a moody vision of the 50s, channelling a European chic that was starting to arrive in the UK. The cocktails are by renowned mixologist Tony Conigliaro so are sure to make you never want to leave the 50s but remain there forever, like James Dean. Or Stalin.
Where: 69 Colebrooke Row, Angel, N1 8AA
What: 1960s - The Troubadour
Why: Bob Dylan played here, so did Paul Simon and Charlie Watts, if we’re going to the sixties then we definitely want to start here. All the cool cats from Elton John to Jimi Hendrix got a piece of this Brompton Road venue so it’s absolutely a must. Eat upstairs in the restaurant which remains unchanged over the decades, then head downstairs for drinks and live music in a basement club that’s about as 1960s as free love or the moon landings.
Where: 263-267 Old Brompton Rd, Earl's Court, SW5 9JA
What: 1970s - Coin Laundry
Why: The main legacy of the seventies may be pictures of your shaggy haired parents wearing brown suits, but it wasn’t a kind decade for food and drink. Prawn cocktails and pickled onions with cheese on cocktail sticks ruled the day. Coin Laundry in Exmouth Market, though, not only turns all that around, but they’ve created a seventies bar restauraunt that we love to eat, drink and play kerplunk in.
Where: 70 Exmouth Market, Clarkenwell, EC1R 4QP
What: 1980s - Maggie's
Why: We’re in the home-stretch now and the miners are striking ‘oop North’ and the Russians are lining their nukes up, but Club Tropicana’s on the ghetto-blaster and the A-Team’s on the telly so all’s well. Bring on Maggie’s, the ‘80s themed bar and club on Fulham Road where Margaret Thatcher’s speeches play in the loos and the waitresses wear rubics cube dresses. Frankie would definiltey say ‘relax’ into an evening of throw-back classics and great drinks.
Where: 329 Fulham Road, Chelsea, SW10 9QL
What: 1990s - One Canada Square
Why: The nineties may have been naffer than a NafNaf bomber jacket, but one place that was cutting edge was Canary Wharf, the home of the Yuppie. Then, as now, the action centred around One Canada Square, the 50 storey cathedral to mammon and until 2010 the UK’s tallest building. It’s also home to the One Canada Square Restaurant and Bar, serving cocktails and modern European food classics to passing bankers, lawyers and time travellers. It couldn’t be further from the world of Blur, Take That and Tellytubbies, but maybe that’s no bad thing! If you’re passing through the nineties, you’ll want to stop off here.
Where: One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, E14 5AB
What: 2000s - Millenium Dome building (AKA The O2)
Why: We’ve had a lot of drinks and seen a lot of history since we began back in 1900. As the nineties turned into the naughties we fretted about the millenium bug, experienced the dawn of the internet and invested in mobile phones that finally weren’t the size and weight of a housebrick. But the defining moment has to be the launch of the Millenium Dome, the Queen and Tony Blair awkwardly joining hands for Auld Lang Syne in ‘The Dome’. Now The O2, the venue is the perfect end to our journey through time, so grab a well deserved drink at Ny-Lon. The cocktail bar features an extensive list of drinks, various lounges and even a private dining room that looks like it’s straight out of a Bond-villain’s lair. It’s also a thoroughly modern end to a trip through history.
Where: The O2, Peninsula Square, Greenwich, SE10 0DX
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