by Charlie Tee
Our very own boy about town, connoisseur of fine living Charlie Tee, tells us why there is no place like The Connaught Bar to sink a few.
THE CONNAUGHT BAR
Having spent alot of time (possibly too much) at some of London’s finest bars, the Connaught never fails to impress. The bar has won a myriad of awards including ‘Best interior design of the year’ and manages to feel special yet familiar at the same time, making repeat visits as addictive as the cocktails it offers.
Set slightly back from the thoroughfare of Carlos Place, the Connaught has the feeling and stature of more a country house hotel than a mid-Mayfair stopover. Perhaps this allows one to focus on the upcoming treats before swishing through the revolving door and leaving the outside world behind.
Passing the imposing dark wood of the foyer’s much-instagrammed staircase, guests find two narrow doors as an entrance. Once inside, it is clear that the great David Collins is one of the designers behind the bar and on this occasion he has had a field day. Wood, leather and the clever use of lighting and mirrors give this space a very comfortable feeling, far from what could easily have been up-tight, uncomfortable, or too dark; three of my main dislikes of some bars nowadays.
Onto the drinks. Martinis are concocted and served from the famous Martini trolley; now a new and improved version to celebrate the ten years’ service. It’s the real deal; the floor had to be laser-levelled to make sure the trolley doesn’t do the rounds of its own accord. The Martini spirit dilemma is solved by a plethora of gins and vodkas but let Master Mixologist (not a term I’m in love with) Agostino Perrone decide for you. It’s his job and he is one of the best in the world.
I drink a Tanqueray 10, dry, with a twist, and this is the finest example one could wish for. The dryness coming not just from the lack of Vermouth but also from the driest of dry ice, used in all the bars’ cups to kerb dilution and homogenise the drinking experience. It works too; my drink is crystal clear, bone dry, ice cold, and stays that way until I finish it; not that long admittedly. There is a full list of aromats that can be added to the drinks. People lament the addition of cardamom to a gin Martini and vanilla to a vodka one, but I am a purist and so side-stepped the tiny pipetted medicine bottles, as cute as they are.