Got a Zoom party to go to? Fix yourself one of these legendary tipples, all invented at the world’s most famous hotels.

A good cocktail is a never not a mood brightener. They are, somehow, imbued with glamour in the way that, say, a glass of beer – however nice – simply is not. A great concoction conjures to mind Art Deco bars and clubby opulence – and no wonder. For many of our very favourite all-time classics were, in fact, invented by bartenders at the world’s iconic hotels in the last century. We may not be able to visit in person right now, but we can at least have a little weekend treat courtesy of the masters and imagine ourselves there. Even better, we can plan what we’ll order when finally we can get out and about again.

Do throw on a nice dress, dim the lights, light a candle, squint and you’re almost there. Here are our seven favourite. What cocktails are getting you through right now?

The Paris Ritz Sidecar

Travel + Leisure


The Sidecar was invented by Colin Peter Field, head barman at the exquisite Hemingway Bar at The Ritz, Paris. It is known to be one of the most expensive cocktails in the world. Thanks to the inclusion of a rare Ritz Fine Champagne 1865 Cognac, it’ll set you back some €1500 if you order it at the bar. Don’t have any rare Ritz Fine Champagne 1865 Cognac knocking about the store cupboard? Well, we suggest you watch this lovely video of the Sidecar’s inventor at work anyway, but you may wish to actually work from this rendition, courtesy of the ever-brilliant The Spruce Eats. The perfect balance of sweet and sour. Cin cin.

Harry’s Bar’s Peach Bellini

Great British Chefs/ Valeria Necchio


Is there a cocktail more sublime, more redolent of summer, or more steeped in history as the Bellini? Invented in the 1930s by Giuseppe Cipriani for Venetian institution Harry’s Bar, destination of choice for the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Truman Capote, it was named after the 15th-century Venetian painter, Giovanni Bellini. Harry’s Bar and The Cipriani Hotel serve up Bellini all year round these days, but when Signor Cipriani invented it, it was intended as a summer drink. We heartily agree; the pressed white peaches are the perfect refreshment when they’re in season, livened up by frothing Prosecco.

We love the story of Harry’s Bar itself. Giuseppe Cipriani was a bartender at the Hotel Europa in Venice, where a wealthy young American named Harry Pickering used to frequent the bar. When his family, appalled by his drinking habit, cut him off, he stopped turning up. Concerned, Cipriani lent the American some money to tide him over. Two years later, a grateful Pickering returned with a tip that was five times what the bartender had loaned him, with the instruction to set up his own establishment. And thus was the legendary Harry’s Bar – now officially a national landmark – born.

Dukes Hotel Martini

Punchdrink


For many, the Martinis served up by Dukes Bar’s world-class bartenders are the only ones worth drinking. Each is personalised, and you’ll hear no clink of ice here: the dapper head barman, Alessandro Palazzi – as much a London institution as the bar itself – insists on frozen gin or vodka, a tradition begun by his legendary predecessor, Salvatore Calabrese. Brisk, almost syrupy, bitingly cold and served in a classic V-shaped glass, it is reassuringly old school. But then it should be. Dukes was the bar of choice for Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, a man who famously liked his Martini, with the strict specification that it should be ‘shaken, not stirred’. Today, Bond’s favoured tipple is served up at Dukes as the ‘Vesper.’ Do beware: the bar will only serve two Martinis to its guests, so strong are they.

The Waldorf Astoria’s Rob Roy

Vine Pair


There must be something about the name Harry that works like a talisman when it comes to iconic bars. Sir Harry’s Bar at the Art Deco Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York is named after the British explorer Sir Harry Johnston, and is every bit as achingly glamorous as you might expect for an establishment that once pulled in the likes of Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra. The Rob Roy – blended Scotch, sweet Vermouth and Angostura – was dreamt up in its clubby surrounds after the opening night of an operetta inspired by the titular Scottish folk hero. A post lockdown celebratory drink at this bar would be a thing of wonder.

The Savoy’s Moonwalk Cocktail

Difford’s Guide


The American Bar at The Savoy, London, created this zingy and luxurious cocktail to mark the moon landings in 1969. It’s still as good now as it was then; no wonder it was the first drink Neil Armstrong opted for when he landed back on earth. Grapefruit, orange liqueur, rosewater and champagne: this is one for a special occasion. We’d trust The American Bar – which has been voted the best in the world several times – with pretty much anything, and definitely with being able to reliably cheer up any lockdown celebration.

Raffles Hotel’s Singapore Sling

Viet World Kitchen


We love a cocktail with a good story. In the early 1900s, Singapore’s iconic Raffles Hotel was a place for people to gather and clink glasses in its Long Bar (back then it was located in Cad’s Alley, not actually at the hotel itself). It was, however, not the done thing for women to drink alcohol in a public place. Enter genius bartender Ngiam Tong Boon who, in 1915, conceived of a clever way around the conundrum. The Singapore Sling was invented to look like innocent fruit punch. Cleverly, he fooled onlookers with his heady mix of gin, cherry heering, Dom Benedictine, Cointreau, Sarawak pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine with a dash of Angostura Bitters. We applaud him for not holding back. It’s quite the list, so you have to really want this one. But if you do, it will doubtless summon to mind the cool rattan furniture and earthy tones of the beautiful Long Bar. Sigh.


Hotel Metropole’s Black Russian

Masterclass



The Belle Epoque bar at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels is a place of sheer, extreme beauty. Built in 1985, it wasn’t until 1949 that its bartender, Gustave Tops created the Black Russian in honour of Perle Mesta, the US ambassador to Luxembourg who was also a great socialite. It coincided with the start of the Cold War, which best accounts for why Russia was on Tops’ mind. Best of all – it’s really easy. All you need is vodka, ice and black coffee. Prefer a white Russian? Just add cream, an addition that started to appear around the 1960s. We’ll take our black and strong. Cheers.

By Nancy Alsop
May 2020

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