Dec, 2010 16

drink/eat, know how Drink Like an American~in London

Pubs abound in London, of course, and there is nothing better than a pint while you rest your weary legs from all the urban hiking that London offers.

But, if your mood at the cocktail hour is for something a bit fancier in uber glitzy surroundings, think about a visit to the very famous American Bar at the Savoy. Yes, it is a very touristy thing to do, but there is no doubting that the places oozes history along with the over-the-top glamour. As it is located in the West End, home of theaters galore, it is also a fun place to have a pre-theater drink.

The bar is within the newly refurbished (to the tune of over 200 million pounds and three years of labor) Savoy Hotel which is another London place hiding in plain sight. If I have walked by it once, I have walked by it 50 times and only noticed it a few months ago.

Supposedly, this hotel is the first in the world to have been lit by electric lights and the first with electric elevators. More impressive, is the list of people who have stayed there: The Beatles to Lena Horne to Led Zepplin to U2, along with Claude Monet and James Whistler before them. Apparently, Churchill often took his cabinet here for major power lunches. Imagine. If only the walls could talk.

It is said that the first cocktails ever served in Europe were served at the Savoy’s American Bar many, many decades ago. So famous were the cocktail recipes at one time, that a book was written in the 1930’s in homage to the classics: Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Singapore Slings and Grasshoppers. The Savoy Cocktail book can be bought here: http://www.amazon.com/Savoy-Cocktail-Book-Harry-Craddock/dp/1862057729

TWO MORE FASCINATING FACTS about the Savoy….Bob Dylan stayed there in 1965 and filmed the video clip of Subterranean Homesick Blues in an adjacent alley. And, perhaps, most delightful of all, the hotel’s restaurant, The Grill, possesses a 3 foot tall black alabaster cat which they use as an extra guest if a dinner party’s guests number an unlucky 13. The cat, Kaspar, is sat at the table with his own place setting to ward off any voodoo that might be lurking.

TO GET THERE: Take the Bakerloo, Northern or District and Circle Tube lines to Charing Cross station. Go above ground and outside the main entrance to the station. You will be facing the Strand, the busy avenue directly in front of the station. Turn right and walk along the Strand on the same side of the street as the station. Walk for about two mins., past Super Drug and Top Shop; looking always on your right. There, set back about 45 feet in a very posh alley, you will see a large sign that says SAVOY. The bar is inside the front doors and to the left.

WORD TO THE WISE: Cocktails are very expensive, perhaps $15 each. But for a one time pre-theater lark or an oh-what-the-hell afternoon drink it could be a bit of fun.

Come along with me….London calling….


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