Having praised the Britishness of the Goring, now warm words follow for a vanishing American-style sanctuary: the American Bar at the Savoy The Strand WC2 (071-836 4343) (top). Opened in 1920, this place still attracts the sort of leathery rich one readsabout in Patricia Highsmith novels - Johnson-era Americans who could run the country just fine after three large bourbons and a cigar. These jowly old giants know their cocktails, and so do the staff. Peter Dorelli, the head barman, has been m i xing perfect dry Martinis (£7.50) for 29 years. Habitues prefer to perch at the art deco bar, the best vantage point to admire his technique with the shaker. The tulip-shaped glasses are unorthodox but charming. Excellent crisps are kitchen-made; olives
are the stuffed type that taste best soaked in gin. Smart dress, ties. Open Mon-Sat 11am-3pm, 5.30-11pm; Sun pub hours. Major credit cards.
The Connaught Carlos Place W1 (071-499 7070), was originally called the Coburg when it was built in 1896, but by the outbreak of the First World War, the name was deemed too German for the preferred pitstop of the landed gentry. The panelled American barto the rear of the hotel opened in 1940, and, like the one at the Savoy, is a place for the cocktail generation. Guests murmur as they study one another discreetly, all the while melting pleasantly into their starched collars and sequinned dresses. Evenmineral water is served in gold-rimmed glasses, Tanqueray Martinis (£7.50) in crystal. Men must wear ties, but women can go as Chrissie Hynde. Open 11am-3pm, 5.30-11pm Mon-Sat; Sun noon-2pm, 7-10pm. Major credit cards.
The top floor bar at the St George's Hotel Langham Place W1 (071-580 0111) has been recently refitted by the Forte Organisation and named the Heights. The result is so new, it looks rather like a furniture showroom. Still, the cushions are soft and the views over central London simply glorious. Only the piped music palls. Bloody Mary £5. Open 12 noon-11pm Mon-Sat, Sun pub hours. Major credit cards.
According to a barman, the unlikely but substantial decorations of the Four Seasons Hotel Park Lane W1 (071-499 0888) were chosen by the wife of one of the company executives. She seemed intent on turning a modern building, with plate glass windows overlooking Hyde Park, into a turn-of-the-century gentleman's club. In other words, it is a vaguely absurd place, but a comfortable one. And it is well worth £6.20 a cocktail to study the Euro-rich who stay here. Open 11am-11pm Mon-Sat; Sun pub hours. Major credit cards.
Since it was opened in the 1860s by a penurious Frenchman, Cafe Royal 68 Regent Street W1 (071-437 9090) (above) has been through enough redecorations to impress even Ivana Trump (her builders are currently going hammers and tongs at a building in Cadogan Square). The latest change has been to strip out the faded velvet from the bar facing Regent Street, and extend it into part of the brasserie to the rear. The upshot is handsome, if less seductive. Staff are very pleasant, but shou l d be encouraged toshed soda fountain techniques, such as serving Bloody Marys (£5.50) with a straw. New Year's Day from 12 noon-4pm, open normally 12 noon-11pm Mon-Sat, 12 noon-6pm Sun. Major credit cards.