I’m not one to pursue the familiar when I travel. What would be the point of that? But an evening at the The Savoy, A Fairmont Managed Hotel’s American Bar turned out to be surprisingly closer to home than I imagined while scratching the itch for an only-in-London experience.
The name itself obviously promises less than a rigorously authentic, pure British venue, with its focus on American mixed drinks. That’s all fine and good, given the bar’s century-plus-long claim to fine beverage lore. The American Bar also flouts its Boldface Name Drank Here past. So, the landmark’s entrance corridor and Deco-style bar walls are lined with the Savoy’s own collection of Hollywood headshots, collectibles and ephemera. I was raised and live in Los Angeles, so vintage Hollywood Golden Age memorabilia abroad doesn’t hold much interest. The American Bar, however, means drinking smart, perfectly crafted cocktails from a hyper-local London-themed menu. A fine merging of cross-Pond sensibilities involving top shelf spirits, indeed.
The London Menu, which was introduced earlier this year, is organized thematically in honor of the six boroughs located around The Savoy. Head bartender Erik Lorincz and American Bar manager Declan McGurk collaborated on shaping the six chapters, with four specialty cocktails, each with a unique backstory. It’s an ideal combo of classic American drinking culture, Tinsel tow-style storytelling and local history.
The Green Park from the Westminster section with Old Tom gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, celery bitters, egg white and basil served in an elegant long-stemmed coupe is bright and fresh and downright dynamite, whether or not you read the menu text recounting the history of that particular London location. This cocktail could be right at home in any market-driven cocktail menu in SoCal, too. The description of the City of London’s page Pharmacist comes with a succinct lesson about Stoughton’s bitters, one of the UK’s first patented medicines formulated across from London’s famed Borough Market. The drink itself blends Bulleit rye, Barolo Chinato digestif, Suze apéritif, absinthe, house-made grenadine and dehydrated raspberries. And the extra dash of context is the perfect secret ingredient.
Images courtesy of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.