Jet off for some of Europe’s finest cocktails and explore the iconic and classic as well as the avant-garde and quirky.
Sometimes master mixologists creating signature cocktails in iconic surroundings is reason enough to plan a decadent getaway and make an evening spent at the bar central to an exciting and glamorous city break. Map out a selection and you have an itinerary that puts any bar crawl to shame, with venues that have drawn the great and the good for decades, and other newer players pushing the boundaries in both the setting and their offering.
There are bars with a glorious reputation that keeps patrons flocking, and there are those not happy to rest on their laurels. At the forefront of this trend is the American Bar at London’s Savoy Hotel. With a history that reaches back 125 years, there is no shortage of famous names to mention who have all enjoyed a tipple here, but today it is not just the history of the place that draws a crowd after a meticulous renovation injected a new lease of life into it in 2010.
Recently crowned the Best Bar in the World (last year it was pipped to the post by The Dead Rabbit in New York), a favourite remains the Hanky Panky, the signature cocktail of Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman who arrived at the bar in 1903 and who is only one of two women to have held the head bartender position. The bar’s name is rooted in the word cocktail itself, when mixed drinks were referred to as “American” style drinks. Today, what better than to bring that back over the pond and sample one of their delicious Garden of England cocktails.
London it seems is thriving on the cocktail front, with Dandelyan at the Mondrian coming in in second place on the Top 50 list for 2017, and The Connaught in fourth. The former offers some very interesting modern concoctions by Ryan Chetiyawardana and Iain Griffith which revolve around a Modern Botany concept, plus there are some stunning river and skyline views to take your breath away.
Over to Venice and Harry’s Bar surely gives the American Bar a run for its money in terms of pedigree. Known as the home of the Bellini and famous for its dry martini too, the Cipriani brand behind this national landmark also means that tasty plates are as much a focus – and do pay particular attention to the carpaccio. Of course it didn’t start as a global brand, it was back in 1931 when Giuseppe Cipriani first opened the doors to this discreet-looking bar just off the Piazza San Marco and it was he who created both the Bellini and the now ever-popular carpaccio. Back in the day Hemingway made his way to both London and Venice on his travels, and for a man as famous for his drinking as his writing it is clear Harry’s made an impression, though he is said to have revelled in its tucked-away location. We wonder what he would make of it today.
Bar Hemingway, image courtesy of The Ritz Paris
Speaking of Hemingway, Paris surely must be calling too with the bar in his name at The Ritz, where Cole Porter is said to have composed “Begin the Beguine” and where F. Scott Fitzgerald had a favourite seat – and, if legend is to be believed, where Hemingway downed 51 martinis to liberate the bar from the Germans in 1944. Today it is Colin Peter Field’s creations that are the main attraction, as well as the stunning interiors after 4 years of recent renovations added further polish to what was always magnificent.
If something a little quirkier appeals – in terms of surroundings if nothing else – head to Stockholm and the IceBar at the IceHotel, the only year round ice bar in the world. Don the warm clothing on offer and enjoy a drink based this year on the theme River to River as you take in the ice sculptures which are recreated (as the bar is itself) each year. If the cold doesn’t appeal or the setting seems too contrived, make your way to the city’s coolest hangout Linje Tio. Not just a bar, there is a restaurant, wine bar and barber shop under one roof, and is has become the place to be seen in Stockholm. The atmosphere is relaxed and the parties can be epic, so come prepared.
From the old school to some fine newer additions the cocktail scene in Europe is buzzing. Choose one and make your way through their cocktail list, or better still hop from one to the next by private jet for a bar crawl like no other.
Find flights today