Restaurants: Bar Fly

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The Independent Culture
The Library Bar, The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, London SW1 (0171-259 5599)

That this bar is next to the Withdrawing Room will give you an idea of its opulence: there are cascades of lace and silk, chandeliers, vases, wooden panelling and - hence the name - shelves of mint-condition antiquarian books.

Don't, however, expect to leave quite as sober as the surroundings, or pay anything other than double figures for a single drink. It's a cocktail bar, tended by Cognac expert Salvatore Calabrese (see page 44). There's even a dusty cabinet (he calls it a "liquid history") housing his favourites, and, if you're so inclined, you can try a glass of 18th-century vintage, a snip at pounds 750 a measure. The bar also has a humidor for its collection of rare cigars.

So as you can imagine, The Library is less a place for the swift half than the scene for classy courtship and the deal-clinch. The drinks themselves are exquisite (a tough assignment, but someone had to taste them): not the normal faux-cocktail kick of fruity meths, but subtle tangs in glasses prepared like still-lifes. These are delivered by black-tie courier, complete with posh nosh. A round might cost a week's wages, but it's worth it.

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