The Savoy Hotel, 100 Strand, London WC2R 0EZ
STEEPED IN HISTORY, BUT NOT WEIGHED DOWN, The American Bar is as relevant now as it has been throughout its 126-year history. It makes The World’s 50 Best Bars list for the fifth time straight. That’s every year following its reopening in 2010 – only once has it been outside of the top 10. Such a record means the Savoy Hotel’s cream ocean of splendour enters our all-time achievers’ list for the first time, which, it must be said, says more about how long we’ve been running The World’s 50 Best Bars than the American Bar’s all-time achievements.
There are many. Indeed the American bar’s memoires are the drinks industry’s fondest. For 126 years it has been home to the fun-seeking famous and the pioneer bartenders of the cocktail industry. Under the bar’s current steward, Erik Lorincz, the American Bar has resisted the complacency that can come with a rich history. This could so easily been a cocktail museum of faded glories.
The Savoy cocktail book of 100 legendary recipes is never far away, but you won’t find the famous American Bar drinks White Lady or Hanky Panky on the menu. Indeed, with each year the bar’s drinks move further from yesteryear classics. But the young, energetic bar team are only too happy to dig out the old bible and read out a verse. For its bartenders it’s about finding the balance between remembering what you are and why your customers visit, yet staying at the cutting edge of cocktail culture.
The menu that won Academy admirers was a modern interpretation of the bar’s history – with creations to link to five 25-year eras. Yes, the American Bar has been open so long it spans eras. There are bitter-sweet drinks to represent 1889-1913, aperitifs connected to historical events from 1914-1939, during Ada Coleman and Harry Craddock’s reigns, while drinks found in the 1940-1964 section are inspired by the likes of the Queen’s coronation and Elvis Presley. Peter Dorelli’s tenure is celebrated in the 1965-1988 period and 1989-2014 brings the menu to the present day.
The World’s 50 Best Bars has been given a sneak preview of the new menu to launch this winter – a liquid tour of six of the capital’s boroughs through some of their lesser-known sights. Expect visual flair, not least the illustration of Lorincz and bar manager Declan McGurk cast as the protagonists in London’s last ever gun duel.
Just as Coleman, Craddock and Dorelli did in their heydays, the team of 2015 are writing their own chapter in the history of The American Bar.