1073 Cocktails and 238 Bars now listed
The American Bar is widely regarded as one of the world’s best hotel bars with a history that harks back to the golden age of cocktails in the 1920’s. Head Bartender Erik Lorincz, who has won numerous bartending awards, follows in the footsteps of legendary bartenders such as Ada “Coley” Coleman and Harry Craddock, author of The Savoy Cocktail Book. All cocktails, both classic and new, are made with the finest spirits, an imaginative twist and a passion for perfection.
Few bars can claim an historical pedigree as rich as that of the American Bar. First headed up from its opening back in 1893 by Frank Wells, this is a bar as famous for its head bartenders as it is its location and drinks. Ada Coleman took the reigns next, to be succeeded by the author of perhaps the worlds most acclaimed cocktail books ever written Harry Craddock. The influence of this book remains significant to this day, and whilst the lavish refurb of the hotel completed in 2010 saw the American Bar benefit from a more airy and fresher feel, this art deco inspired bar is deservedly proud of its heritage.
The significance and reputation of this bar ensures a pleasant buzz throughout its opening hours and whilst the no-bookings policy can mean a few minutes spent perusing the small museum adjacent whilst awaiting a space at peak hours, it remains a reliable option for an impromptu visit. The evening singing ivory tickler certainly beats the local Spotify playlist competition and makes for a charming accompaniment to the ‘life is good’ feeling induced by relaxing in surroundings as refined as this.
You’ll need to feel relaxed of course to be at ease with the prices which sit comfortably at the luxury hotel end of the scale. With posh nibbles, efficient and well informed service, and beautiful glassware to accompany the plus interior design that should hardly comes as a surprise. What might come as a surprise however, is how the base spirits in many of the cocktails don’t quite reach the premium offerings of the other elements of this bar. Some spirits such as Bacardi rum are specifically called for by name in the Savoy Cocktail book, and thus their inclusion on today’s menu such as the Daiquiri are perfectly understandable. The prominence of others, most notably Bombay Sapphire which was launched until 1987 and yet is used as the base gin in almost every gin cocktail listed, causes one to question whether it has been selected because it is the most suited gin to each of those cocktails, or because a generous pouring deal is in place with its owner. When so many cocktail bars not residing in luxury hotels are using more interesting, unusual and varied base spirit options in their cocktail menus, it is a shame to see this bar using such ‘everyday’ spirits.
Industry politics aside, it is hard to argue that the drinks themselves are not well executed and fine examples of a style of bar tending that is resolutely classic in delivery. Many of the favorite classics from the Savoy Cocktail book such as the Hanky Panky and White Lady are listed, and finer examples of their type will not be found. Representations are also made from various head bartenders over the last century or so, such that the menu reads almost like the sort of history lesson you wish you got at school. Two cocktails created by current head bartender Erik Lorincz are particularly successful and illustrate why this most suave of individuals is as highly regarded within the industry as he is. The Green Park cocktail combines gin with celery bitters, basil, lemon juice, sugar and egg white to delivery a slightly sour, savory and herbal drink that is as unusual as it is moreish. The other, the Malecon picks up on the very understated nutty notes of Bacardi rum by mixing it with lime, port and sherry. It’s a classic of the future for sure.
As with any bar, perfection is an unreasonable expectation, and so often falls foul to unreasonable expectations rather than poor delivery. The American Bar isn’t immune however to the odd slip to show its human side. The need to twice request water, only to be served it warm revealed an uncharacteristic chink in the armour of this deservedly highly regarded bar that must surely be visited by every cocktail enthusiast.