Sometimes, I just want to live in the past. Where men wear suits, women wear delicate hats with veils and furs, and indulge in romantic cocktails in even more romantic settings. So I was quite happy when I was introduced to The Connaught Bar last year by my socialite-friend-in-the-know Tina.
The Connaught Hotel is a 5 star hotel in the heart of Mayfair. It evokes days gone by with it's properly suited staff, over the top service, art deco furnishings, pricey yet exquisite cocktails, the never-ending, most delicious and savory nibblies found. It's also the home to Helene Darroze's Michelin-starred restaurant which, as you can imagine, is equally as fantastic.
Most of you know, my first and foremost cocktail of choice always a classic martini. I think you can tell everything about a bar by how well they can make a martini (that is, if they make them well at all!) A proper martini in my opinion, is a delicate blend of either vodka or gin, dry vermouth, garnish of choice - for me, either delicate lemon peel or olives. The balance can be disturbed quite easily with too much of this, not enough of that, or shaken too hard, or served too warm. A good martini is blended just enough.
I find that most people really don't care about a true martini. If they like them at all, they prefer them sweet with lots of sugar on the rim...definitely more Katy Perry than Marlena Dietrich. I prefer mine simple, classic, androgynous and with a sultry kick.
At The Connaught, the Connaught Martini arrives on a moving trolley, complete with your own personal bartender (albeit for about 8 minutes) to blend your martini at your table. You choose your herbal essence, contained in an array of dark brown, medicinal looking glasses with stoppers from a guilded tray. Will it be vanilla? Lavender? Coriander? Cardamom? Grapefruit?....This time, I chose Cardamom for it's heady spiciness and warmth. You can also choose from 8 different vodkas, and about 5 different types of gin. This time I chose Chase, quality potato vodka from Herefordshire. (Although, would also recommend both the grapefruit and the coriander essences with either Tanqueray or Hendrick's).
The dapper and handsome bartender deftly crafts a beautiful and delicate martini, dry with subtle lemon flavors, nuanced with the cardamom. It's served in dainty glassware that can only be found and purchased from the Connaught for only a mere £180 per set.
I enjoy where a good martini transports me, especially at the Connaught...to an elegant, quintessentially English pre-war era, to a London that I can only imagine...