The Big Six: Classic cocktail bars
Discover where you favourite cocktail was invented with our round-up of the world's best drinking dens
Saturday 19 December 2009
The St Regis, New York
Some argue that the Bloody Mary was created by American film producer George Jessel; others say it was a barman at Harry's New York Bar in Paris in 1920. What's certain is that barman Fernand Petiot created today's version 75 years ago while working at The St Regis – but called it Red Snapper as the hotel was unwilling to use the word "bloody". While presiding over the King Cole Bar, he gave the drink its characteristically spicy kick.
The St Regis, 2 East 55th Street at Fifth Avenue, New York, US (001 212 753 4500; stregisnewyork.com). Doubles start at $801 (£534), room only. A Bloody Mary costs $18 (£12).
Hotel Ritz, Paris
It is generally agreed that the Sidecar – cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice – was invented towards the end of the First World War, but the exact location isn't clear. The Paris Ritz stakes one of the more convincing claims; legend has it that the cocktail was concocted by one of its barmen for a regular who rode a motorcycle with a sidecar. The hotel's wood-panelled Hemingway Bar serves both the original and a version that replaces standard brandy with Ritz Fine Champagne 1865 cognac. At €400 a glass, you'd better make sure it's not your round.
Ritz Hotel, 15 Place Vendôme, Paris, France (00 33 1 43 16 30 30; ritzparis.com). Doubles start at €550, room only. A classic Sidecar costs €30.
The Caribe Hilton, San Juan
Set in 17 acres of exotic gardens, the Caribe Hilton in the Puerto Rican capital is the spiritual home of the Piña Colada. When the Caribe opened in 1949, it was the first facility operated by Hilton Hotels outside the US. As the hotel grew in reputation and stature, a barman named Monchito was tasked with creating a new signature beverage. Three months later, in mid-1954, Monchito found the perfect tropical blend of rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice, and the Piña Colada was born.
Caribe Hilton, Los Rosales Street, San Geronimo Grounds, San Juan, Puerto Rico (001 787 721 0303; caribehilton.com). Doubles start at $255 (£170), room only. A Piña Colada costs $13 (£8.70).
Perhaps the most well-known venue of a classic cocktail is Raffles' Long Bar, home to the Singapore Sling. First concocted by Ngiam Tong Boon around 1910, it is one of the hardest cocktails to perfect because of its long list of ingredients. Visitors can find out more about the drink in the hotel's museum and see the safe where Ngiam Tong Boon stored his recipe books.
Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road, Singapore (00 65 6337 1886; raffles.com). Doubles start at S$996 (£440), room only. A Singapore Sling costs S$27 (£12).
Willard InterContinental, Washington DC
Henry Clay is widely credited with introducing the Mint Julep to the mainstream in the early 19th century. A US senator from Kentucky, Clay mixed the mint, sugar and bourbon drink for patrons at the Willard's Round Robin Bar, which is still the most luxurious location in which to enjoy it.
Willard InterContinental, 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC, US (001 202 628 9100; ichotelsgroup.com). Doubles start at $518 (£345), room only. A Mint Julep costs $15 (£10).
Hotel Metropole, Brussels
Built in 1895, the Metropole is the only 19th-century hotel still operating in Brussels. Its Belle Epoque bar is where the Black Russian – vodka and coffee liqueur – was created in 1949 by Gustave Tops in honour of the then US ambassador to Luxembourg.
Hotel Metropole, 31 place de Brouckère, Brussels, Belgium (00 32 2 217 23 00; metropolehotel.com). Doubles start at €120, including breakfast. A Black Russian costs €10.
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