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Carlos Place, Mayfair, London W1K 2AL
IF ALL ENTRANCES WERE THIS GOOD there would be no need for exits. First the doormen - the white-gloved kind - whose "welcome to the Connaught" stiffens your stride and prepares you for the resplendent luxury that lies ahead. Within fractions of lobby-indecision, you are detected and directed to the hotel’s inner sanctuary, the Connaught Bar.
Few bars this youthful have an epochal character. Somehow the Connaught retains the soul of the old American bar that preceded it, but is overlaid with sparkling, newly applied style.
The archways, mirrors and panels of Cubist and Art Deco design make for one of the most impressive settings to any drinking experience.
This is neo-classicism at its best and it’s difficult to know where to rest your eyes - the lights, the walls, the bar, the Ago Perrone.
Perrone is the Connaught’s Italian head of mixology and wears a suit like a sensei wears a gi - the black tie his black belt in cocktail hospitality.
From the bespoke Martini trolley that has ratcheted the boozy classic to another level, to the welcome drink afforded to guests and his impeccable professionalism, this is the Perrone school of bartending.
Perhaps it is a sixth sense but staff don’t serve customers, they read them, knowing what they want before the customers know themselves.
"You are part of their lives - you make the magic happen," explains Perrone.
Split into Masterpieces, Continental, Transatlantic and Pacific cocktails, the latest incarnation of the Connaught menu continues the magic trick.