Whether you’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a vacation to Mother England or you call the United Kingdom home, there is no denying that London is home to some of the very best bars in the world. Traverse the ancient cobblestone streets of Piccadilly and up through the alcoves of Soho and you’re bound to stumble across a world-class establishment or, as was the case on my recent sojourn with The Dalmore, four.
From The Glade at Sketch and The Library Room at The Lanesborough to The Vesper Bar at The Dorchester and of course, The American Bar at The Savoy, London’s hallowed bar scene offers an abundance of unique settings to enjoy whisky. And enjoy whisky we did. Join me on my night out and you might find yourself your next favourite bar in this amazing city.
Stop 1: The Glade at Sketch – Mayfair
Our night started in Mayfair at the popular Sketch, a contemporary venue that has been supplying world-class concoctions since 2003. Sketch is many things all-in-one and all of those things are breathtaking – including the loos (which you’ll have to see for yourself). Across five different settings, the venue is best described as an eclectic hub of restaurants and bars, each as Instagrammable/Tik-Tokable as the next.
The ever-changing art-adorned hallways lead you down a Wonderland-esque rabbit hole. We found ourselves at The Glade – a bar unlike any other I’d been in. We stepped into this mythical forest and walked over the mossy floor to a velvet lounge in the corner.
The Glade starts the day as a place to enjoy breakfast and ends the day as a magical spot to enjoy a whisky and on my visit, I ordered a dram of The Dalmore King Alexander III. A playful, expressive whisky with floral notes that complemented the fairytale forest we found ourselves in. The first drink went down characteristically well and before I knew it, we were already on the move.
Stop 2: The Library Bar at The Lanesborough – Hyde Park Corner
Stepping into The Library Bar at The Lanesborough for the first time is a special experience. It has the feel of a private club and the log-fires, book-lined walls and Regency furniture are all quintessentially British. We found ourselves sat next to an impressive Dalmore display and our waiter jumped at the opportunity to recommend an adventurous take on a spicy Margarita mixed with the iconic Scotch whisky.
Whilst it sounded great, I was keen to try something more in keeping with the traditional setting and as such, I ordered a Classic Whisky Sour with The Dalmore Aged 12 years with Matusalem Sherry Spritz. The addition of the sherry was a nice way to honour of The Dalmore’s upcoming, highly sought-after Cask Curation Sherry Edition – of which there are only 150 sets available. Naturally, it was expertly mixed and one of the best Whisky Sours I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying.
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Take a wander through the decadent hallways of The Lanesborough and you might find yourself in a hidden oasis. A world away from the bustle of Hyde Park Corner and surrounded by lush greenery, The Garden Room, is a covered outdoor terrace devoted to those who enjoy cigars.
The two walk-in humidors present an impressive selection of Cuban and pre-Castro cigars as rare (and expensive) as you might imagine. A good spot to sit and enjoy a whisky, but it was time to continue our journey.
Stop 3: The Vesper Bar at The Dorchester – Mayfair
With a smiling goodbye from the immaculately dressed doormen as they opened the grand doors of The Lanesborough we were back into the busy peak-hour streets of Knightsbridge and onto The Dorchester, in Mayfair. Newly re-named after James Bond’s first love, The Vesper Bar at “The Dorch” is old Hollywood romance at its finest.
Earlier in the year this storied bar reopened after a rebrand and extensive renovations. The new interior, by renowned designer Martin Brudnizki, features a glitzy 1930s low-set Palladium leaf ceiling which is as eye-catching as the cocktail menu.
The Vesper Martini would be the obvious choice (and for good reason) but in the spirit of my whisky evening, I was directed to the popular Strawberry Fizz Forever – a nod to The Beatles who oft frequented this Park Lane institution.
Strawberry Fizz Forever reads; Dalmore 12, Montenegro liqueur, Acqua di Cedro, Power Pops tomato cordial, strawberry wine, eucalyptus sorbet. It added a colourful and refreshing point of difference to the night’s proceedings. The combined youthfulness, spiciness and rich orange notes from The Dalmore 12 proved a perfect choice to mix. Leaving the warmth and liveliness of The Vesper Bar, we jumped in a cab and made our way to The Savoy – the perfect place for a nightcap.
Stop 4: The American Bar at The Savoy – Covent Garden
The American Bar at The Savoy is the longest-surviving cocktail bar in London. Lining the walls are black and white photographs of the many well-known personalities and stars that have all enjoyed a drink here; Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and Marilyn Monroe smiling at me. We were shown to a lounge near the piano where the pianist was playing ‘My Way’. The table next to ours singing along. The night was in full swing.
I headed over to the bar and chatted with the bartender about their newest menu. ‘The Savoy: American Bar Journal’, created by Head Bartender Chelsie Bailey and her team, features contemporary interpretations of classic cocktails.
‘Homecoming’, celebrating The Lionesses Euro 22 Victory by mixing Lion’s Botanical, Dry Vermouth, Elderflower liqueur and Cuvée Rosé and ‘Cupid Cocktail No2’, a spicier take, mixing Cayenne Pepper with Tequila Blanco, Olorosso Sherry, Coconut Cream, Rice Milk, Lime and Cucumber being two of the many stand-out cocktails.
It’s quite easy to find yourself overwhelmed by choice and to be honest, I was most tempted by the glittering jewel sitting behind the bar, a bottle of The Dalmore Constellation Collection Aged 33 Years. The star in The Savoy’s whisky selection caught my eye, as it no doubt had countless others. I wasn’t lucky enough to try that on the night but perhaps next time… One can dream and amongst the stars at The Savoy, I can think of no better place to do just that.
Disclaimer: The author of this article, Richie Hall, was invited to visit London as a guest of The Dalmore.
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