President’s Day – an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February – is fast approaching. Looking for somewhere in London to celebrate the United States presidents, past and present?
Seek out Steam & Rye, the swanky bar and restaurant brought to us by Nick House (Mahiki/Whisky Mist/ Bodo Schloss) and the glamorous Kelly Brook, which opened in the old bank of New York building in the heart of the city of London late last year.
Inspired by the United States of the 1920s, the decadent one stop destination offers live music and dancing with a classic Americana theme. The grand living of the Great Gatsby era is met by the old ways of the Wild West and travelling shows are fused with the stirrings of the new, young sound of rock ’n’ roll. Upon entering the grand building guests receive an all-American warm welcome in the dark and mysterious reception area with a hint of things to come.
To fully ensure visitors are transported to another world, House has enlisted the help of production designer Jonathan Lee, who won the Milan Film Festival Production Design Award for Head in the Clouds starring Penelope Cruz and Charlize Theron and has a wide array of film and TV credentials.
“My brief for Steam and Rye was to create a journey of escapism through the eccentric and eclectic world of the 19th century American Railroad Titan, Beamish Bettenbaum,” says Lee. “The design theme that I developed is based on wealthy eccentricity from a period of great invention, exploration and decadent style. As in designing a film, I set out to have the “audience” immersed in this world and take them on a journey through it.”
Steam & Rye contains four main elements. The Main Hall and Station Gardens are modelled on New York’s Grand Central Station and offer an over-whelming assault on the senses. The room features a beautiful sculpted bar, a stage, living clock, and its very own Eastern Pacific Steam Train Dining Carriage.
Explorers find a winding stairwell leading to the mezzanine level and the Cargo Hold; an impossibly crammed collection of ephemera, taxidermy, flotsam and jetsam with a glass fronted wall offering a bird’s eye view over Grand Central Station. Dimly lit, it takes time to explore the treasures accumulated over a lifetime of travel to extraordinary destinations.
Finally the basement First Class Cocktail Carriage is a luxurious retreat while crossing continents. Rich sumptuous velvet and intimate leather-lined booths create an opulent den to savour extraordinary and exotic cocktails from the richly-laden bar.
To commemorate President’s Day, Andy Mil (aka Britain’s top bartender) who heads up the bar at Steam & Rye has created a special cocktail. Take a bow the ‘Monica Lewinsky’ (dark chocolate sauce, Disaronno Amaretto, Sailor Jerry spice rum, vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, whipped cream and milk. Mmmm!)
We asked Andy to reveal the recipe in case you, like us, feel inspired to create the tasty tipple at home:
1 shot sailer jerry
1 shot amaretto
1 shot dark chocolate sauce
2 shots milk
Mix in a Sunday glass with crushed ice. Garnish with Oreos and whipped cream.
Happy Presidents’ Day!