The Handbook
The Handbook

A five star hotel’s bar is a good indication of the sort of establishment you’re in. Whatever the hotel, some crucial questions you should be asking… Have all these middle aged businessmen brought their daughters for drinks, or are they high-class escorts? Are those Saudi Princes oozing out of that gold plated Lamborghini about to ruin the atmosphere and bring in a drunken entourage of 50? And is that Premier League footballer about to be stung in a tabloid’s cocaine-and-hooker set up? But none of these are questions you need to ask at The Connaught. It’s above all that, the only question you need to ask is ‘which cocktail should I have?’.

With the possible exception that it’s reported to be Cherie Blair’s favourite hang-out, The Connaught is the perfect hotel. Quintessentially British, it’s a classy joint; a hotel that blends the very best of what a modern, top tier, hotel needs to be, with the old-school ambiance of what a veritable British institution should be. And The Connaught Bar is the perfect place to capture it, a fact that has inspired their new cocktail menu, The Essence, a celebration the very essence of this hotel.

Take Sweet & Z. The cocktail is named after an anonymous Italian couple who regularly frequent the bar to the point that they’re considered part of the furniture by the staff. So, of course, they deserve a cocktail to be named after them. Sipping gently on the combo of a bitter Negroni and a sweet Golden Cadillac (their favourite drinks, rather than their personalities I’m presuming) I don’t have time to wonder exactly how much cash you’d have to drop at The Connaught to deserve such immortalisation, because the drink itself is delicious. A large and perfect ice diamond, surrounded with a band of mint chocolate, floats on the bitter-sweet concoction. Cheers to Sweet and Z.

Meanwhile the bar’s door is eulogised in the cocktail Copper & Blue. The old entrance, affectionately remembered by staff and, no doubt, guests like Sweet and Z, sounds like it would have been well-worth a lick. And would have tasted a bit like pina colada. The greeny-blue-ish liquid is a combo of Bacardi Ocho, Plantation Pineapple, Martini Ambrato plus coconut cream and blue Sancerre wine was (and I try not to bandy round these claims too willy-nilly) one of the best cocktails I’ve ever tasted. Top ten, probably top five. I could’ve drunk three pints of it and would’ve still asked the ambulance man to pass my glass again once he’d pumped my stomach.

Moving onto Bubble Leaf… Bubble Leaf is so named because it somehow encapsulates how Director of Mixology Ago Perrone ‘brought fresh inspiration to the classic elegance of Mayfair’. I think by this point of cocktail naming they’d given up on coherently linking menu items to meaning, but it didn’t matter because it was another corker. A blend of Fords Gin, ice wine verjus, Amalfi lemon leaf syrup and Italian apple sparkling wine the cidery nectar was to-die-for. At £20 it’s one of London’s more expensive cocktails, but quite rightly I think you’d love it as much as I did.

The new menu at the Connaught Bar deserves to be enjoyed. Who cares that the menu itself was borderline-spurious in trying to define its essence in the descriptions of the drinks on offer? The essence of the Connaught is in the supreme quality of the drinks on offer. Each one was perfectly crafted and a joy to experience. If hotel’s bar is a good indicator as to the sort of establishment this is, then The Connaught has once again proven it’s surely one of the best hotels in the world.

The Essence is available at The Connaught Bar now, Carlos Place, Mayfair, W1K 2AL