We like to discover new hotels and, to be honest, we have been spoilt for choice in London over the last few years with new ones seemingly popping up every week and trying to outdo themselves with quirkiness and interesting features. Chain hotels, boutique hotels, big hotels, small hotels – the more the merrier.
But deep down we do love the classic hotels, the grand old dames of luxurious hospitality, and you can’t be much more of a classic than the beautiful Art Deco Savoy Hotel in The Strand. Just walking past and looking at the entrance conjures up a sense of history, luxury and glamour that is hard to beat.
We also have very fond memories of a publishing party at the Savoy we went to many years ago. It was held in the swimming pool atrium and it involved a troupe of synchronised swimmers. Great evening, but that’s another story!
The principle of classics often being the best also applies to cocktails: experimental concoctions are fun and often delicious but sometimes only one of the great classics, like an Old Fashioned, will do.
So, when The Savoy invited us to come along to the launch of the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts’ new global cocktail programme ‘Classics. Perfected.’, we knew it would be a very special evening.
The reception was held in the elaborately decorated River Rooms, overlooking the Embankment Gardens and the Thames. Guests were greeted by flapper girls and a glass (or two or three) of Veuve Clicquot champagne.
For the first time the hotel group had invited their top mixologists, brought together from around the globe, to collaborate on a cocktail menu that would look at the old favourites through new eyes and make them the best possible, using only the best ingredients and a wealth of bartending experience.
The hand selected Fairmont Tastemakers who worked on this programme in partnership with Kathy Casey at Liquid Kitchen Food Studios, are:
- Grant Sceney, an Australian from Melbourne, who is a Certified Specialist of Spirits and 2014 World Class Bartender of the Year from Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver
- Nader Chabaane, born in Tunesia, brought up in France and a self-taught bartender who is now, via bars in New York, China and Paris, the Director of Mixology at the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec,
- Tom Hogan, who honed his craft in several high end Chigaco bars before joining the Fairmont Singapore. He is also a painter and sculptor and sees cocktail making as another art form
- and, last but not least, Erik Lorincz from The Savoy, a Fairmont Managed Hotel in London, a native Slovakian who learned the ins and outs of bartending in Prague, Bratislava and Japan and has been running the American Bar at The Savoy since 2010, earning the bar the title of ‘Best Hotel Bar’ and himself ‘International Bartender of the Year’ in 2011.
Their work concentrated on three sections of the menu: those cocktails most requested and loved by the Fairmont bars’ guests, a revival of classics for cocktail enthusiasts and the ‘neats’, showing off the quality and taste of the programme’s carefully selected partner spirit brands.
We tasted all six perfectly-balanced classic cocktails, as refined and made by the Fairmont Tastemakers, as Erik, Grant and Nader were there on hand on the night, mixing and shaking up a storm.
The refreshing Sparkling Collins Royale with Belvedere Vodka, fresh cucumber, mint, lemon and, to finish, Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow label.
The Mexican inspired Pomegranate Paloma with Casamigos Reposado Tequila, Cointreau, pomegranate and fresh grapefruit & lemon.
The Right Word, a new take on the Prohibition era’s favourite Last Word, with Bombay Sapphire Gin, Lillet Blanc, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and fresh lime.
The ‘cult classic’ Perfect Martinez with Botanist Islay Dry Gin, sweet red vermouth, dry vermouth and bitters.
The VSOP Boulevardier, the perfect cocktail for somebody who can’t decide between a Negroni and Whiskey with Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey, Remy Martin VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac, Campari and sweet vermouth.
And, our favourite, the grand-daddy of all cocktails, the Fairmont Old-Fashioned with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum and local bitters
All served in beautiful Schott Zwiesel Hommage Comète crystal glassware, beautifully cut to reflect the light and enhance the colour of the drinks.
Delicious and beautifully presented canapés were served all evening.
The entertainment was also top notch with Alex Mendham and his Orchestra, the Savoy’s resident band, playing big band jazz from the 1920s and 1930s.
Close harmony singing sisters Serena and Hannah Dunlop joined the 11-piece orchestra for a few numbers and the Bee’s Knees, London’s finest flappers, showed off their Charleston dancing skills.
It was a wonderful evening, The Savoy, once again, showing off hospitality at its best.
The Classic.Perfected. cocktail menu is available at The Savoy now and will be rolled out worldwide from November 23rd 2015.