When London’s iconic restaurant, The Ivy, relaunched in June following an extensive refurbishment, one of the most striking changes to the interior was the addition of a central coral onyx dining bar.
Sitting proudly in the middle of the room, the new bar allows diners to take centre stage in the restaurant; a place to perch for a pre-dinner drink, or to enjoy a lazy lunch or dinner in prime position.
Bar manager Darren Ball, along with Xavier Landais, group bar manager, has created a new cocktail list for the restaurant which heralds back to the golden era of cocktail bars with drinks such as the Bees Knees, while also embracing kitsch classics like the Pina Colada. The list documents the history of The Ivy, but Darren’s modern variations will ensure that one-time classics will become originals. Some favourites are emerging like the Strawberry Daiquiri, served with a boule of strawberry sorbet and a small carafe of daiquiri on the side, the Lapérouse made with cherry blossom-infused Lillet Rosé, Champagne and St Germain elderflower liqueur, Smoke on the Water with Ilegal Mezcal, Kamm & Sons ginseng spirit, agave, lime, Ardbeg spray and Darren’s take on the Espresso Martini made with premium Absolut Elyx vodka, Illy espresso liqueur, fresh espresso and vanilla syrup.
Darren’s attention to detail is exemplified in his garnishes, from balsamic pearls sprinkled atop the daiquiri for added taste and texture, to the trio of miniature sugar shakers – cinnamon, chocolate and vanilla – served with the Espresso Martini.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Darren has reinvented another classic cocktail for Christmas – the ‘Christmas Carol Old Fashioned’. Mirroring Dickens’ exploration of Christmas traditions from the past to present, Darren will explore Chivas Regal whisky through the ages, with the new cocktail including the Spirit of Christmas Past (a 1970s vintage bottle of Chivas Regal 12 year old), the spirit of Christmas Present (a current Chivas Regal 12 year old) and the spirit of Christmas Future (a Strathisla single malt, which will be the base for a future Chivas Regal blend). Scottish heather honey, bitters and a flamed orange twist will be added to the three whiskies to create the ‘Christmas Carol Old Fashioned’. Served in a Flower of Scotland crystal “old fashioned” glass, the cocktail will be poured over a piece of pure carved ice and will be exclusive to The Ivy for the month of December for £15.
For whisky lovers and novices alike, the new ‘Whisky Box’ is quite something to behold. Containing 14 sample sized bottles of The Ivy’s range of whiskies, the black walnut and green leather box embossed with the restaurant’s logo, shows just how seriously they take their drinks. Ranging from an interesting selection of well-known distilleries to rare and limited edition whiskies, the box can be carried to diners’ tables to allow them to pick out an old favourite or sample something new.
While cocktails and spirits are evidently a focus here, it is still, predominantly, a dining bar. Guests may perch along the front few seats with a drink before they eat, but in the few months since the opening it has become apparent that the 20 seats circling the bar are some of the best in the house. In New York, bar dining has been the choice of the fashionable, and with this addition to London’s restaurant scene, it looks as though the trend is set to take hold here too.