Mayfair exquisiteness in its most prominent manner…
The Connaught is famous for creating the “perfect martini” with one of its few bars being dedicated to such an art form. We, of course, find ourselves perched in this bar. The martini, connoted alongside lavish lifestyles, James Bond-esque imagery, and Roaring Twenties’ New York City is the acquired blend of gin/vodka and dry vermouth, paired with an olive or lemon twist. Over the lat 100 years, the cocktail has established itself as one of the most quintessential drinks for those who ache for the finer things in life. Connaught Martinis are only quietly stirred, never shaken. Only the purest martinis are made in order to savour the superiority of the ingredients, with premium gin and vodka brands, while the vermouth is the crispy Gancia Dry from Italy, only available at the Connaught Bar.
Part of the Maybourne Hotel Group, The Connaught is just one third of London’s holy trinity, boasting elegance, class, neo-classicism and well-deserved five stars. Though we didn’t see too much of the hotel (which we can only imagine to be as lavish as what we do see), this is the sort of venue that still possesses taxi-callers in top hats, restroom attendants and staircases of grandeur. You know a lot has happened within the four walls in the hotel’s lifetime and its blend of the traditional and the modern makes you ever so excited to wonder what such happenings are. This is a location for the movie stars of the 20s, fashion designers of the New Age and rock legends of the latter half of the 20th century. Oozing in grandeur, class and the determination to ensure each visitor feels as special as they hoped, The Connaught is nothing short of incredible.
The stories the hotel boast are awe-striking and leave you revelling in anticipation to see what the fuss is all about. The hotel served residency to the French prime-minister during the 2nd World War to plan the D-Day landings and is home to a staircase so exquisite the Ralph Lauren is said to have installed a replica in his flagship store on Madison Avenue.
201 years since opening, the bar itself is the exciting mix of colour and shape to the eyes that you can imagine it looked when opened Rows of premium spirits line a heavily stocked marble and crystal bar, overlooked by prestigious awards that promise your money is going towards something truly worth it.
The bar is run by industry legend Agostino Perrone, who has collected several international awards for the bar’s atmosphere, service and dangerously easy-to-drink cocktails. The staff in this place are a testament to London’s bespoke cocktail scene, daring to recommend and battling back with masterful knowledge. Friendly, well spoken and ever so on-it, I’m impressed.
Masterpieces // Mulata Daisy
The cocktail in which this bar is renowned for. This is the crown jewel that we had been searching for and I’m pretty sure every martini we have from here on out will be a substandard form of this, rightfully named, masterpiece. Crafted individually and exquisitely by Agostina Perrone, the recommendation is a treat. It truly is the 10ml of Galliano l’Autentico that invigorates this double strained drink. Complexly crafted, this is drinking art, not just some “other” London cocktail.
Bacardi Superior Rum
Freshly squeezed lime juice
Crème de Cacao brown
Transatlantic // Dandelion Coffe Cocktail
The classic American espresso martini, legendary to glitzy hotels reimagined with a fruity twist. Merging brighter flavours such as the date, cashew and sherry with the darker toned Dandelion coffee infused Martell Cordon Bleu is a noteworthy creation. Served in a flute with a dominating and Connaught-reflecting gold paint, this is the kind of drink that should be immortalised and kept on a grand mantelpiece. The piece is finished off with a garnish of caramelised pollen sugar. Perfect.
Dandelion coffee infused Martell Cordon Bleu
Salted date syrup
Grated tonic beans
Pacific // Gentlemen Spritz
The Gentlemen Spritz articulates itself as a traditional private-members-club-esque style drink when it couldn’t be more the opposite. Inspired and reworked from cocktails served and origination in Asia’s famously extravagant hotel bars, the apple-blossom garnished work also dives into the flavours of Galliano (Apertitivo). Probably the sweetest of the lot, this is delightful finishing cocktail for those who want to leave The Connaught with a sweet taste in their mouth.
Rhubarb and red fruits cordial
Transatlantic // Knickerbocker Punch
If anything has been learnt from The Connaught, it is its desire to encapsulate the innovative flavours of well known and beloved cocktails and manipulating them to see fit to a 21st century audience with the desire for something refreshing and new. The Knickbocker Punch did so and dutifully well. Strained into a cocktail glass and garnished with a spray of aromatic bitters, the champagne gives a fruity vibe to the intensely sweet cocktail. Well done The Connaught. 4 well formed, far from repetitive, innovative drinks.
Kaffir lime leave infused Bois Genever
Lemon verbena caster sugar
Though a little pricier and with a dress code (smart casual), this is the place to wow. Let the conversation flow and drink like you’re in the 20s. A phenomenal set of drinks, wonderful service and knowledgable staff, this is a hive of Mayfair exquisiteness in its most prominent manner.
Words – Dean Eastmond