American Bar at The Savoy Hotel Bar Review

By The Reviewer.

The American bar, first opened on August 6th 1889,  is one of the defining bars of cocktail culture and was a sanctuary from the American Prohibition. It has been host to some of the worlds best barmen like Ada Coleman, Harry Craddock, Peter Dorelli, Salim Khoury and Eric Lorincz. Not to mention iconic cocktails such as the Hanky Panky and Corpse Reviver #2.

 

The American Bar's sumptuous interior is reflected through their clientele

 

Ambience and Decor

Being a hotel bar it hasn€™t got a typical entrance, you ascend a relatively inconspicuous staircase to the bar before getting a full view of the lounge. There€™s also a small Savoy museum on the left with plenty of history to "pour over."

The bar is set with a magnificent Grand Piano in the centre, with golden mirrors, old photographs and art deco images adorning the walls. It€™s these touches that make you feel like you€™re in an episode of Jeeves and Wooster, circa 1935 New York.

Aside from the pantone change from yellow to a white and blue colour scheme, it looks identical to the pre-refurbishment bar. But it's this colour that gives it a very open, friendly feel despite its small size. It also provides it with a gentle push into the 21st century while at the same time keeping it€™s roots

The ambience is that of chic and sophistication, but not so much so that it puts off guests who are coming for a quick drink to feel special. Also with fresh white walls and the smooth curves of the bar, it's more inviting than you might believe.

 

Clientele and Atmosphere

The clientele is very up-market; suits and dresses for the most part, talking high powered business and recent trips to the holiday home. Not a surprise considering the splash the cash prices. You might expect it to feel stiff upper lip and snooty, it really is the complete opposite, I don€™t think I€™ve been in a more relaxed and chilled bar before. It seems appearances can be deceiving.

During early/mid-week, the bar has a small but continuous flow of patrons, most just to meet friends and colleagues. The evenings attract the afterwork crowd looking to wind down and take it easy. Wednesday to Saturday it€™s a destination pre theatre and pre dinner, but also to those who€™ve just finished eating at The Savoy Grill. It attracts those who have just enjoyed afternoon tea in the Thames Foyer.

The atmosphere is relaxed and laid back, yet with a pleasant evening buzz that keeps thing relatively lively. It€™s nice to be in a hotel that doesn€™t see the barmen running around like headless chickens, like other high end hotel bars I€™ve visited.

 

One of The American Bar's cocktail masters shaking up something good

 

Drinks and Food

While at first glance the drinks may seem overpriced, at £14.50-£16.50 a piece, the substantial quality of them makes this expenditure less of an issue. And if you€™re a cocktail aficionado, you've come to a bar where that love was born.

On the first page of the drinks list you€™ve got €˜The American Bar Tribute Cocktails€™ including the Hanky Panky which was made and named for Sir Charles Hawtrey. But today the recipe has gone from 1 vermouth and 1 gin to an amalgamated mix of 5 gins, 4 vermouths and 3 bitters. You also have the more recent cocktails, including the €˜Malecon€™ from award-winning Head Bartender Eric Lorincz. As expected you€™ve got your standard classics like Vespers, Mai-Tai€™s and Mojitos which are all impeccably made, but with many bars making these drinks exactly the same and sometimes better, the £14.50 price tag seems a bit over the top. All in all, the cocktail selection is great and if there€™s nothing you like, then the exceptional bartenders will mix you up something using what ever base spirit you takes your fancy.

The wine and champagne list is quite small and as expected in hotels the mark-up is quite high, though the starting prices for wines are more reasonable priced. The choice while limited appeals to all palettes, going from your smooth to oaky reds and dry to floral whites. If you do want a bigger selection, The Beaufort Bar would suit you better.

Unfortunately aside from a few nuts and olives, there€™s no food available. But with the Savoy Grill, River Restaurant and Thames Foyer all serving food, there€™s more than enough choice.

 

Music

Jazz and light Swing are the name of the game in the bar, at just the right volume to enjoy but not so loud that it ruins ongoing conversation. Each night from 6:30 till 11:30 you have the pleasure of listening to the lounge pianist, which almost transports you back to the golden age and sees the bar really come to life.

The American Bar often features live pianists, creating a relaxed atmosphere

 

Summary

This bar is a must visit if you appreciate great cocktails, whether money is an object or not. You€™re also on the site where the legendary Savoy cocktail book was created which helps to make you a part of that history. Know when drinking here, you€™re in good company.

Budget: Splash the Cash

Pre-Designs: Impress a date

Service: 5/5