The world's most beautiful bars stir up the cocktail scene

Christopher Hirst introduces a new guide to their signature drinks
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

ach generation believes it makes the world anew. So it's a safe bet that the svelte young things who sip the signature drinks in the world's most glamorous bars have scant notion that it was all done 80 years before by their great-grandparents. Of course, there are one or two differences between the cocktail bars of the Twenties and the hip venues of the Noughties. The art deco of the Jazz Age was hard, glossy and monochrome. Today the mixing goes on in soft, womb-like and lurid spaces. Back then, Sidecars, Manhattans and Martinis were sipped to the accompaniment of Gershwin, Coward and Porter. Today's Frangelico Cream Martini (Athens), 101 Vanilla Express (Reykjavik) and Ghostini (Las Vegas) are consumed to a background of Goldfrapp, Royksopp and Morcheeba.

In Bill Tikos's new book, Signature Cocktails, there are a couple of survivors from a more stylish age. The Bar Basso in Milan dates from 1947, but going by its looks it could have opened 40 years earlier. Founded a century ago, El Floridita in Havana was where Hemingway famously downed large daiquiris (inevitably known as Papa Dobles).

But the biggest difference between the bars of then and now is the cocktails themselves. Jazz Age cocktails tended to be simple, strong and served in small, though frequently replenished glasses. The 21st-century cocktail can be an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink affair. The signature drink of Auckland's Match Lounge mixes a dozen components. The only link between the Library French Martini (vodka, pineapple juice, Chambord and raspberry purée) from New York's Hudson bar and a real Martini is the shape of the glass that it comes in.

Of all the bars in all the world, those shown here have the simplest cocktails. In Esquire Drinks, a manual of classic cocktails, David Wondrich advises: "Shun novelty, suspect innovation." But this is a matter of taste, not right or wrong. Cocktails and morals don't mix.

Ravintola Teatteri

The impeccable Ravintola Teatteri, with its stylish bar, is at the very heart of the Helsinki's hip explosion. Patinated chests, chic wall decorations, and comfortable furnishings soften the vast spaces. As refined guests chat over equally refined food and cocktails, lights fade sequentially in and out, giving the ceilings and walls an almost non-material feel. But it is access to Teatteri's members-only lounge that Helsinki's social set really crave, and entry to it is truly the hottest ticket in town.
www.ravintolateatteri.com

Madonna

25ml gin
25ml lychee liqueur
25ml lime juice cordial
Cranberry juice to taste

Method

Build the cocktail over ice and serve it in a highball glass. Garnish with a slice of lime and a cherry.

Cameo Bar

Leonardo diCaprio, Britney Spears and Dustin Hoffman have all been spotted at the chic lobby bar of the Viceroy Hotel. One of the newest kids on the Santa Monica block, Cameo Bar has been praised for its "whimsical retro-glamour". The decor imitates a mid-20th century English lounge with a parrot green and dark grey palette, custom made vintage furnishings and modern artwork. The bar spills out on to the pool deck making it a favourite for Tinseltown's most private parties. Condé Nast Traveller recently named The Viceroy one of the 50 hottest hotels in the world.
www.viceroysantamonica.com

Cameo Manhattan

85ml Maker's Mark bourbon
30ml Cinzano sweet vermouth
1 splash of bitters

Method

Shake or stir the ingredients as preferred and strain the cocktail into a chilled Martini glass or serve on the rocks. Garnish with a cherry.

Chapel

"Heavenly" is a more-than-apt description of this Seattle venue that was formerly a funeral parlour. Rather than stigmatising the site, its past has given Chapel an individual appeal with features including a high, detailed ceiling, a grand balcony, a wood-panelled interior, and a bar constructed from a milky-white stone mausoleum that was left behind. Mirrored walls, stark white furniture and dim lighting give this chic nightspot a "Heaven's waiting room" feel, and the balcony offers a sweeping view over the dancefloor. But it's the drinks here that are truly celestial.
www.thechapelbar.com

Pear-Sage Margarita

45ml tequila
30ml pear purée
4 sage leaves
15ml simple syrup
20ml lemon or lime juice

Method

Muddle the sage, then transfer it to a shaker and add the tequila, pear purée, syrup and juice. Shake well and serve on the rocks in a double rocks glass.

Milk and Honey

Rule one: book ahead. Located in London's Soho, Milk and Honey is modelled around the illicit establishments of Prohibition days and carefully hidden behind a discreet door with no sign. Its exact location is kept secret until you make your reservation, and tables are allocated on a first-come/ best-dressed basis. Milk and Honey is small and intimate, with leather-seated booths, and lit with candles that reflect light off the tin walls and ceilings. The cocktail list has been devised by the legendary New York bartender Dale deGroff. The cocktails are all handmade or freshly squeezed and served in traditional Champagne coupes, in keeping with the classic theme.
www.mlkhny.com

Honeysuckle Cocktail

50ml Cuban rum
20ml honey syrup
20ml lime juice

Method

Mix all the ingredients, shake, and strain into a coupe (or coupette) glass.

Icebergs Dining Room and Bar

This Australian icon is perched atop the cliffs of Sydney's Bondi Beach in one of the world's most awe-inspiring spots. Taking its name from the club of hardy souls who swim year-round at Bondi's outdoor surf pool, the restaurant has quickly established itself as the place to be in Sydney. The long dining room offers a Mediterranean menu and features sea green benches and banquettes strewn with turquoise and pink cushions, and vertical blue-green glass panels. A glass wall on the ocean side offers uninterrupted views of the pounding surf and endless skies.
www.idrb.com

Bondi Crush

30ml Bombay Sapphire gin
15ml Pimm's No 1
1tsp fresh mint
Dry ginger ale

Method

Fill a highball glass with crushed ice and add the gin, Pimm's and a teaspoon of finely sliced mint. Top with dry ginger ale and mix together until consistent. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Extracted from 'Signature Cocktails' by Bill Tikos (Mitchell Beazley, £14.99)

Comments