WLC’s resident hedonist, Lucy Shaw, heads to The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, for a night of Gatsby-esque glamour fuelled by Old Fashioneds and live jazz.
The concept: While it looks like it’s been around since the 1920s, the glorious Beaufort Bar came to be during the £240m renovation of The Savoy, which took place between 2007 and 2010. The idea was to make the bar the jewel in the hotel’s crown, and its most opulent room.
Leading on from the tea room, with its stained glass domed roof and intricate gazebo that doubles as a bandstand, the Beaufort benefits from its lack of a door, allowing live music to float in from the bandstand throughout the evening.
The décor: No expense has been spared in making The Beaufort one of the most beautiful bars in London. Rumour has it that £40,000 was spent on lining the bar’s six shimmering alcoves with gold leaf, which does wonders for the complexion when coupled with candlelight.
The Art Deco black and gold colour scheme creates an atmosphere of brooding luxury. The Beaufort was previously home to the hotel’s cabaret stage, which once played host to the great Gershwin.
The bar itself is set on a raised level where the stage used to be. Framed by black velvet curtains, there’s a cinematic theatricality to the space. I half expect Marilyn Monroe to pop up from behind the bar and start singing I Wanna Be Loved by You.
Complementing the grand golden alcoves is a Lalique chandelier, giant gold urns, square mirrors and Art Deco black and gold chairs. Completing the look are Oriental-inspired upholstered sofas designed by Ralph Lauren.
The drinks: The new Music, Magic & Drama menu pays homage to the bar’s theatrical past. Split into three sections, the opening aria, Music, is full of drinks designed to be enjoyed early on in the evening.
Ebullient bar manager Joe Harper is keen to shine a light on English sparkling wine, and has curated an enviable fizz list featuring local estates like Ridgeview, Rathfinny, Coates & Seeley, Gusbourne and Hush Heath.
He’s even listed Chapel Down’s single vineyard Coeur de Cuvée 2013, made from Chardonnay from the Kent estate’s Kit’s Coty vineyard, at £210 a bottle.
The bar’s Champagne game is strong too, with popular prestige cuvées like Dom Pérignon, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, Cristal 1979 and Krug Clos d’Ambonnay all present and correct. These liquid teasures don’t come cheap though – a single glass of Krug Grande Cuvée costs £70.
Topping the list is a bottle of 1780 Harewood rum, possibly the oldest rum in existence, and an inimitable piece of liquid history. A single shot of this nectar costs £12,000. Harper says he’s sold two so far since listing the rarefied rum.
Signature sips: The Magic section of the menu is designed for the middle of the evening, when one is seeking slightly stronger sips.
My Showtime cocktail was a divine combination of amontillado, Lillet Blanc, yuzu, umeshu (Japanese plum liqueur), pineapple syrup and celery bitters. The diverse medley of flavours mixed seamlessly, the overriding taste being one of tangerine freshness from the yuzu.
Before the final curtain it’s worth exploring the cocktails on the Drama menu – the boldest and strongest in the collection, designed to be enjoyed as digestifs.
My Only the Finest lived up to its name. A twist on an Old Fashioned, it featured Woodford Reserve Bourbon, caramelised sesame, Pedro Ximénez Sherry and Cocchi Vermouth di Tornio. The addition of sesame was inspired, balancing out the strength of the alcohol into something seriously sippable.
The bar snacks: Each section of the new menu includes a small selection of snacks. Music lists light bites like Irish oysters and caviar with beetroot crème fraiche.
In the Magic section you’ll find delectable, light as air gougères filled with cheddar, Stilton and goat’s cheese, and tender Scottish beef rib sliders rammed with spicy Sriracha mayo and sweet plum sauce.
We particularly liked the crispy cubes of pork belly glistening with honey and soy from the Drama section. The salty-sweet squares of melt in the mouth meat were wonderfully rich and indulgent.
Who to know: It’s worth seeking out the delightful Joe Harper, one of the most enthusiastic and well-mannered men in the business. If you like whisky, ask him to recommend you a wee dram and tell you the story behind it.
Don’t leave without: Listening out for the live music floating in from the tea room. We were treated to the mellifluous vocals of the Blue Rose Trio.
Last word: Ours was an evening of two acts. The bar was buzzing when we arrived, then it almost became our own as the guests trickled out to go for dinner or catch a play. It came to life again later on in the evening, when hotel guests and theatregoers swung by for a nightcap.
The bar’s Gatsby-esque glamour doesn’t come cheap – cocktails hover around the £22 mark and some cost much more, but if you’re seeking somewhere sophisticated that transports you back in time to the decadence of the Roaring Twenties, then The Beaufort Bar is hard to beat.
The Beaufort Bar at The Savoy, Strand, London WC2R 0EZ; Tel: +44 (0)20 7836 4343