The Lobby Bar Shakes Up a New Cocktail Menu
By Maria Fedele
Have you heard? There’s a new bar in town, and it’s the place to see and be seen in London.
When one of the chicest names in the hotel industry opened up a new post in central London back in 2013, incorporating two bars and a fine-dining restaurant, word spread quickly. Now, the Lobby Bar at The London EDITION hotel has just launched their exciting new cocktail menu, and the whole experience is a fine tribute to the timeless old-world classic hotel bar.
Housed in the former Berners Street Hotel in London’s West End, the building’s imposing edifice is flanked by grand pillars which open up to focus the attention on the grandiose lobby. Famed architect Ian Shrager was at the helm of revamping the Lobby Bar, keeping the elements of the old English anatomical charm with high ceilings, marble countertops, and lashings of plush velvet.
Dark leather couches and deep-seated armchairs are matched with snug booths and low-slung tables to create a warm, relaxed space where glamourous guests converse in hushed whispers over wistful jazz music.
The perpetually lit roaring fire in the corner (even though its only just past summer) and dim lighting accentuate the bar’s suave ambiance, as does the antique billiard table and Salvador Dali-inspired floor lamps. All of which does little to deter the eye from the giant custom-made Ingo Maurer silver sphere hanging extravagantly in the centre of the room.
And now for the cocktails. Keeping with the theme of balancing the classic with a touch of modernism, the cocktail menu features all the time-honoured favourites, but with a delectable twist.
Drawing inspiration from EDITION Hotel’s other global locations, the menu takes you on a diverse tasting journey through cultural palates.
Andy, the bar manager, tells me that the new menu features an array of exotic and intense ingredients infused with high-quality spirits and complementary flavours. And you can tell that there is passion and a great deal of creative thought that goes into each and every one of the complex cocktails that the impeccably dressed bar staff concoct.
Stand-out favourites include the Miami inspired cocktail ‘Miami or Not,’ which coincidentally translates to ‘do you love me or not?’ in Italian. And the answer is, yes, I simply adore the orange chocolate flavours which complement the strong shot of espresso and citrus notes. It’s a match made in cocktail heaven.
The Shanghai is served in an open coconut with a base of sake, double cream, and the traditional spirit of Ceylon, Arrack, which is distilled from the sap of the coconut flower. The cocktail also pays homage to the ‘Sea of Bamboo’ park in Shanghai with a splash of bamboo cordial to top it off. What unfolds is a creamy unique take on a traditional Whisky Sour.
Go West (Hollywood)
Conversely, the West Hollywood cocktail is all about healthy ingredients (well, as healthy as an alcohol-based drink can possibly be.) Matcha tea is blended with Altos Blanco (a Mexican tequila), cucumber, lemon juice, and chili bitters to create a refreshing potion which looks a lot like a wicked version of a detoxifying green juice.
The last of my favourites is the Iceland – primarily because it comes served in a gold-plated gnome. Titled ‘Gnome of the Brave,’ I’m not entirely sure what the correlation is between gnomes and Iceland, but the novelty is amusing. With a splash of luxury Swedish vodka (Absolut Elyx) woven with whey milk, anise tea and lemon juice, somehow this odd concoction of flavours works surprisingly well.
So, consider this your invitation to saunter on down to London’s West End and transport yourself to another world of luxury, one which is usually only reserved for VIP’s and members.
You will know when you have arrived as the doorman gives you a knowing look and a tip of the hat as if to say ‘Yes, you have come to the right place. It’s all happening here…’
Contributor Maria Fedele is an adventurous traveller and freelance writer from South Australia who has lived in Paris and currently calls London home.