Article

Last orders

what would you do on your last night on earth?

Picture the scene. You’ve got one night left on earth, and with no hangover to worry about the next day the world is yours for the taking. Nick Midgley asks 10 top bartenders for their last requests


PETER DORELLI
Former head bar tender at the Savoy and all-round legend.


Where are we going?
London: the much-missed Salvatore@Fifty and The Dorchester.

Who’s serving what?
At the bar will be my very good friend Salvatore Calabrese, along with Giuliano Morandin and Francesco La Franconi, now a Las Vegas entrepreneur with great charisma. Drinks will include a Negroni, Calabrese’s Spicy Fifty and L’Or de Jean Martell cognac, which I first tasted in Cognac – really special and really expensive!

Who’s providing the music?
It has to be jazz piano. Ray Charles has always been my favourite, as well as Bazz Norton who used to
play in the 

American Bar at The Savoy. He now has his own place, Piãno Kensington, and he’s got even better!

Who else is coming?
Richard Harris, because I enjoyed his company on many occasions at the Savoy; Peter Sellers, who always made me laugh; Dudley Moore for his terrific humour and great piano talent; and Liv Tyler who is beautiful with a wonderful, understated charm and no pretence.

Any last requests?
To be in the company of the other three remaining ex-head barmen of the Savoy: Joe Gilmour, Victor Gower and Salim Khoury.


PHILIP DUFF
Bartender, Consultant & Co-Owner of Door 74, Amsterdam 


Where are we going?
Cape Town, overlooking the confluence of two oceans as the sun sets. Transported brick-by-brick from Berlin’s Wilmersdorf area will be what I consider to be the best drinking experience in the world: Gregor Scholl’s 17-seat Rum Trader bar.

Who’s serving what?
Several 50:50 G&Ts (made with Booth’s House of Lords gin and Fentimans tonic) with Gregor Scholl at the start of the evening, sitting on the bench seat at the end of the bar on the left. Switching to Pierrel Les Oressences Blanc des Blancs champagne when some beautiful young ladies of my acquaintance arrive. Then on to Vintage 21-year-old rye Manhattans made with Carpano Antica Formula vermouth while in discussion with my other guests (see above right). We’ll close off with PX Flips made by Timo Janse, head bartender of Door 74.

Who else is coming?
Bill Clinton for a laugh and to share war stories, Uma Thurman so I could try to seduce her,

billionaire publisher Felix Dennis because he’s partied more than anyone has a right to, and Raymond Chandler, so we could talk about booze, broads and boxing.

What are we eating?
An appetiser of sushi selections including the finest o-toro tuna, with Martinis made from 50:50 G’Vine gin and Dolin dry vermouth, followed by centre-cut Danish air-dried beef covered in the bearnaise sauce from Copenhagen’s MASH restaurant, accompanied by a good Pétrus. I’d conclude with a cheesecake from The Palm restaurant in Washington DC, a glass of Excellia tequila, and finally a port with a ristretto and 96% cacao dark chocolate with just a hint of chilli.

Any dress code?
My own tailor’s work: a handmade white-on-white striped shirt and three-piece double-breasted gangster wide-stripe black and white pinstriped suit with very dark blue brogues. As the evening progresses, I might remove the waistcoat.


TOMAS ESTES
Tequila Ambassador


Where are we going?
I’m in Ensenada, Baja California Norte, a Mexican port city 60 miles below Tijuana on the Pacific coast. The bar is Hussong’s Cantina, established before there were cars. This is an unpretentious, down-to-earth place to go and have a great drink and a fantastic ‘never know what will happen next’ time.

Who’s serving what?
The bartender is John Humphries, the man who refused to train the youing Dick Bradsell when he was starting up
as a neophyte. We’re drinking

Margaritas.

What are we eating?
We are eating street tacos brought in from one of the many dusty corners that are covered with food vendors.

Who’s providing the music?
Bands come through the bar regularly. The one playing currently is a norteño band.

Who else is coming?
I’m with my sons, and with John Steinbeck. We are at the bar talking, asking those questions which will never be answered.


CHRIS EDWARDES
Co-Owner of Blanch House, The Hanbury Club and Drink Pimps


Where are we going?
London. But this is not a holiday, it’s a serious night of irresponsible drinking; a luxury in fact that is now frowned upon in our industry.

Who’s serving what, and where?
I would have to restrict it to the West End and Notting Hill. Commencing at Dukes Hotel for a Martini served by Alessandro Palazzi, then to Salvatore at Fifty to tuck into some of those really expensive brandies he kept locked in the glass cabinets. From there to Notting Hill for a small libation or two courtesy of Henry [Besant], Dre [Masso], Charles [Vexenat] and Bex [Almqvist], and then to the Portobello Star for a beer, a Manhattan and a couple of shots of something nasty from the shelf of shame with Jake Burger and Mal Evans of Mojo fame. Back to the West End to Quo Vadis for an Old Fashioned with Paul Mant and the boys with

Tini’s Gianfranco Spada as guest bartender. Then it would be a slippy slide round to The Green Fingernail to drink one of Dick Bradsell’s classic concoctions with Nick Strangeway, and finally to The Groucho Club to meet Jared Brown, Anistatia Miller, Peter Dorelli and everyone we visited earlier for the party of a lifetime.

Who’s providing the music?
Tom Waits would park himself at the piano at The Groucho with a large bourbon, and a fag in his mouth, and play.

Who else is coming?
My wife and kids, Ernest Hemingway, Peter O’Toole, Bobby Moore, Audrey Hepburn, Tom Waits and the original rat pack.

Any last requests?
To wake up in the morning, realise I’d got the date wrong, have a pint of Bloody Mary and start all over again.


ANGUS WINCHESTER
Globetrotting Bar Consultant.


Where are we going?
The Café Gray Deluxe bar at The Upper House, Hong Kong.

Who’s serving what?
Dick Bradsell, Charles Schumann, Donn Beach, Hidetsugu Ueno, Johnny Solon and Dave Wondrich are behind the bar. They’re serving up Negronis with Tanqueray No. Ten and Antica Formula, Mai Tais with the original 17-year-old Wray & Nephew, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, 29-year-old
Glenury Royal Malt, Marolo Grappa di Barolo

20-year-old, Yebisu beer and Pocari Sweat.

Who else is coming?
John Hegarty (the ad guy), Oscar Wilde, Miles Davis and Charles H Baker Jr.

What are we eating?
Oysters, Kobe beef and syllabub.

Any dress code?
Ideally I’d be naked with no shame. But if my family are around I’ll go with a handmade three-piece Prince of Wales check Brioni suit.


AUDREY SAUNDERS
New York Cocktail Goddess


Where are we going?
I’ll be drinking from 6pm to 6am. I would naturally start at Pegu Club, and then move onto the Flatiron Lounge, Little Branch, PDT, Mayahuel, Death & Company, Dutch Kills, Clover Club, Milk & Honey and back to Pegu for a final round.

Who’s serving what?
At the Pegu, head bartender Kenta Goto, Scott Teague, Del Pedro, Raul Flores and Yael Vengroff. They’ll be mixing Pegu Club Cocktails, Gin-Gin Mules, French Pearls and Old Cubans.

Who else is coming?
Certainly my beloved, Robert

Hess. Also my all-time favourite married couple; Sam Kinsey and Kathryn Allyn, and one of my dearest, oldest friends, Rob Oppenheimer.

Any dress code?
For some reason, it feels like New Year’s Eve, so I would probably be dressed in black silk and satin, with lots of pearls.

Any last requests?
If it’s truly my very last night on earth, then I’d like to make it back home and die in the sack with Robert.


ANDY PEARSON
Founder of the Hoxton Pony & Director of Intoxicology 


Where are we going?
London. We have such a glut of talent over here now that it would be a sin to go anywhere else!

Who’s serving what, and where?
I’d start the evening off in style in the bar at Rules, where Brian Silva would conjure up a creation befitting the end of the world, before moving on to Lonsdale. After a proper Yorkshire send-off at the Portobello Star with Big Jake Burger, I’d head to my local pub, Ruse in Borough, so I could sit and have a few cold ones with Tony Hailwood and the lads. From there it’s across the bridge to Shoreditch for a cheeky Margarita made by Will Foster at Casita, round the corner to my favourite bar of the moment,
Callooh Callay,

before popping in to see the boys and girls at The Hoxton Pony. No night would be complete without a stop at Mahiki to see Papa Jules and the legendary Danny Smith, and then to the mad professor Tony Conigliaro at 69 Colebrooke Row for one of his molecular creations straight from the lab. He may even find a formula to save the world, which of course would mean doing it all again the next day by way of celebration.

What are we eating?
If time allowed, I’d probably do the cooking. I love to host and I may not be the best cook in town, but my herb-crusted rack of lamb usually does the trick. If the clock was ticking then it would be beer nuts all round.


GARY REGAN
UK Bartending Expat
residing in New YorK


Where are we going?
We’ll be sitting in the vaults at The Bay Horse pub in Thornton, Lancashire. My parents used to run it, and the present landlord and landlady, Tony and Cath Duncan, are fabulous hosts. We might pop over to Manhattan for a couple of drinks in Drake’s Drum, too. It’s no longer there, but it was where I started out in NYC; an earthy neighbourhood joint with sawdust on the floor on the Upper East Side.

Who’s serving what?
Nick Irving: he used to tend bar at The Bay and had his very own brand of bartender sarcasm that went down very well indeed. And Dave Ridings, now deceased, the quintessential bartender who taught me much. We’ll be drinking Tetley’s Bitter and Wild Turkey 101 on the rocks. It’s the only bourbon they stock at The Bay and will suit me just fine.

Who else is coming?
Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha, but we won’t be talking religion. They’ll be taking a night off to discuss the finer points of the sleazy underbelly of Blackpool. Pete Townshend, Quentin Crisp and Johnny Rotten can come hang with us, too.

What are we eating?
Fish, chips, and mushy peas with a steak pudding, extra gravy and chip-shop curry sauce.

Who’s providing the music?
Dave Mallinder, the pub DJ, will be playing 60s & 70s R&B with a bit of punk, and some hokey stuff like ‘Rum and Coca-Cola’ by the Andrews Sisters. The Who might make a surprise appearance, but they can only perform one song (perhaps Baba O’Riley?), because we really want to talk rather than pay attention to the band. Oh yes, and Keith Moon returns from the dead to play drums.

Any dress code?
Jeans, a t-shirt and sandals. It’s a balmy summer’s night and we can stand outside late as it doesn’t get dark until after 10pm. We might just catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, which would be pretty nifty as they’ve never been seen in Thornton before.

Any last requests?
Perhaps a bunch of middle-aged women out on the prowl could pop into the pub, too?


SPIKE MARCHANT
Mixologist & Consultant with the Drink Factory 


Where are we going?
El Parian, in Tlaquepaque, the old heart of Guadalajara. It’s a wonderful open-air courtyard square with a crumbling splendour that’s beautifully old Mexico. At night it’s a riot of mariachi bands and locals enjoying themselves. We’d stop off first in La Maestranza Cantina, an old bull-fighting hang out.

Who’s serving what?
Tequila by Tapatio, Calle 23, Ocho and Don Julio; beers by Negra Modelo and a couple of cask-conditioned Dorset ales; cocktails would be old school classics like Aviations, Blood and Sand and the Martinez. Champagnes are by Billecart Salmon, and wines by Nicolas Catena. Dick Bradsell and Jake Burger are leading the charge behind the bar, and there’d be at least a dozen others to pick up the strain. Jason Fendick, Chris Edwardes and Charles Vexenat take it in turns.

Who’s providing the music? Apart from the local Mariachi

bands, which are amazing, I’d have Missy Elliott for booty-shaking, The Foo Fighters for head-banging and a Plump DJs set to take us till dawn.

Who else is coming?
Monica Belluci, my favourite writer Kurt Vonnegut, Eddie Izzard and the Dalai Lama. It’s my last night and I need a little redemption, and besides I’m sure he would get on down to Missy.

Any dress code?
If only I had the height to pull off the cowboy look of Los Altos... So I’m going 1920s broad-check gangster style. I need decent tailoring to cover the marks of an ill-spent lifetime.

Any last requests?
I’ll make good use of my star guests’ talents; Kurt can write my obituary, Eddie entertains everyone at the wake, Monica can dab a tear away and the Dalai Lama gives me a free pass to Nirvana.


DAVE WONDRICH
US Writer & Drinks Historian


Where are we going?
New York, as it was in 1900. I’d observe the stations of the ‘cocktail route’, hitting all the famous bars in the Madison Square/Herald Square region: The Waldorf-Astoria, the Holland House, the St James and a handful more, ending up at the Hoffman House where my select company and I would explore the eatables and enjoy a little music.

Who’s serving what?
George Kappeler at the Holland House, Frank Meier and Harry Craddock at the Hoffman House, and I’d have to import Dale DeGroff into one of the bars to show the old-timers what a whippersnapper can do. I’d be pretty much focusing on Crustas, made with the best brandy or the oldest Holland gin in the house, and delightful things involving champagne.

Who else is coming?
I’d need a poet, but a clever one, so let’s say Ovid. A bartender would be in order so, of course, Jerry Thomas. Throw in the crazy Czech humorist Jaroslav Hašek, because he makes me laugh, and finish with Carole Lombard, for the same reason (that and the legs).

What are we eating?
The free lunch, not skimping on the fried oysters or roast pheasant.

Who’s providing the music?
Since bringing in Fela Kuti and Africa 70 would probably blow every circuit in New York at the time, I’d have to fall back on someone without so many amplifiers; say, Jelly Roll Morton and His Red Hot Peppers with – what the hell – Frank Zappa sitting in on electric guitar.


Editorial feature from Imbibe Magazine - January / February 2010

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