American Bar launches London-inspired menu

Gaëlle Laforest

21 January 2016

The American Bar at The Savoy launched a new cocktail list this week inspired by London, as well as a silent film starring its team.

Cocktails are organised in six sections named after London boroughs (Westminster, Hackney, Islington, Tower Hamlets, City and  Camden), with an additional two sections for vintage cocktails (Greenwich, for the GMT) and non-alcoholic cocktails (Covent Garden, for the old fruit and vegetable market).

Each section includes four drinks inspired by places or historic facts related to the borough – such as the menu's star drink (and star of the film too), the Pickering Place. Named after the smallest square in London, which was also the last place in London where a duel took place, it's made up of two drinks. When we sampled them, both had their merits: The Elegant for its lighter, fruity but sharp profile; The Bold for its richer, slightly spicy flavours refreshed by a good dash of Fernet-Branca. Not only that – the drinks come served on a platter that opens to reveal a tablet showing the silent film (see above).

A photo posted by Imbibe (@imbibeuk) on Jan 20, 2016 at 1:54pm PST

Bar manager Declan McGurk explained: 'We had budget for a documentary, but thinking about it and historical guests of The Savoy, I thought we could do a silent film in the style of Charlie Chaplin.' McGurk wrote it, and along with head bartender Erik Lorincz, and bartenders Michele Mariotti and Martin Hudak, starred in it. It's being used not only for promotion, but as a part of the drink itself. 'Ultimately our priority is the guests who are here in the room,' McGurk added.

As for the menu, its aim is to tell stories about London, and McGurk hopes to inspire guests to visit the places the cocktails are named after. Long drinks are prevalent on the list, both refreshing ones, but also stronger highballs – 'that's often been overlooked in the past,' McGurk said – as are vodka cocktails. 'They've always been a bestseller, so it's important for us to focus on it. I want to sell the vodka drinks that I really like.' In this way, the American Bar has managed to smartly walk the fine line between the classic, timeless drinks it's known for, and easier-going serves that will satisfy its sightseeing guests.

The menu will remain in place for at least a year; plenty of time to go and sample what is a list of excellent drinks that are especially good at letting the base spirits express themselves.

Aside from the Pickering Place, the stand out drink for us when we visited last night was the Old Terraced House (see our Instagram post above). Created by Joe Lewis-White, it's a bold but fruity stirred drink using Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Whiskey, crème de cassis and Savoy grenadine, laced with Lagavulin to create an accessible whisper of smoke, and layered with a touch of absinthe and Byrrh that lengthen the finish.

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