For cigars and sophistication, the famous American Bar – with its white ceiling, Terry O’Neill monochrome portraits and art deco decor – is where it’s at.
The menu boasts a long list of tipples for the discerning drinker to choose from, but cocktails – including several classics created by Harry Craddock (head bartender back in the 1930s and the man behind Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book aka the bartender’s bible) – are undoubtedly the specialty.
All of the cocktails have ‘a story’ and the encyclopaedia sized menu is beautifully presented, meaning there’s a tendency to sit and read all the entries like a child absorbed in a Harry Potter novel. Fortunately, for the indecisive, staff (ask for Alice) know their business and if you want advice on what to drink, you’ll get it with enthusiasm.
Haute Living can vouch for the Moonwalk (£19) – an intoxicating combination of Grand Marnier, Champagne, orange flower water, grapefruit bitters and sugar cube. Created in the sixties by then head bartender Joe Gilmore, the Moonwalk was named after the successful moon exploration in 1969 and the drink was the first thing to pass the lips of the Apollo 11 crew once they had landed safely and exited the shuttle! Neil Armstrong even sent a personal letter to Joe thanking him for the gesture…
The Green Park (Bombay Sapphire Gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup, fresh basil, egg white and celery bitters) also gets our vote. This fresh gin cocktail – named after one of the Royal Parks of London – has been created by current head bartender Erik Lorenz (a former recipient of the Best International Bartender trophy at the coveted Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards) and aims to remind us of the greener and lighter days that can be had in the capital.
Elsewhere elegant platters of nibbles like nuts and olives magically materialise and act as the perfect accomplishment to the lovingly crafted cocktails. Factor in attentive service, a strict door policy (sportswear is banned) and a fabulous pianist and you’ve got a luxurious and discreet drinking destination that makes for an elegant escape hatch from the hustle and bustle of The Strand.
Why go there? For a pre or post dinner drink or to escape the maddening crowd.
American Bar at The Savoy, Strand, W2 (020 7836 4343). Open Mon-Sat 11.30am-12 midnight; Sun 12midday-12 midnight.