London is famous for its grand hotels, and names like Claridge’s and The Ritz are synonymous with five-star luxury and glamour. Almost as famous are the bars these hotels house, honey pots to the rich and famous and many, like the Savoy, with a historic link to the world of cocktails. In a continuing series, I explore the hotel bars of London and see if their reputations are deserved.
A lot of bars never quite look as good as they do in the promotional shots. On the website they look perfect, glittering and glamourous, but up close without the professionally tweaked lighting, and the benefit of usually being brand new when the photos were taken, they don’t quite live up to what is promised. The Purple Bar is not one of these bars.
An opulent mix of rich purple fabrics, chic cut-glass mirrored tiles and raw stone, The Purple Bar is a tiny oasis of quite amazing interior design. And that’s not a line lifted from the website – this bar really does look incredible. Containing just a handful of tables it is a cosy, intimate space, and definitely one of the most aesthetically perfect bars I’ve seen.
However, enough fawning over the looks – on to the drinks. Unlike its larger and less exclusive sibling The Long Bar, whose cocktail menu is dominated by vodka, The Purple Bar’s menu is split in to “Modern Martinis” and “The Martini Collection”. The former section contains a variety of new creations often using a lot of different fruits, herbs, infusions and juices, while the later sports a selection of classic drinks ranging from the Vesper to the Brooklyn.
On the night of my visit I was lucky enough to be accompanied by Dinah from Bibulous, who was in London for New Year. For our first drinks she went for a Japanese, while I went for a Martinez. The Japanese was balanced and interesting, a mixture of Cognac, orgeat and bitters that I hadn’t tried before but will definitely be trying again. The Martinez was my first in many months that wasn’t made with Old Tom gin, and while it’s not up to the superlative ones made at The Dorchester Bar is was nonetheless very tasty.
For our second drink Dinah decided to be adventurous and ordered their “Winter Martini”. A mixture of Navan, Chivas, fresh lemongrass, kumquat, caramel syrup and grated nutmeg, it came in an enormous coupe-like glass and was an incredibly fresh mixture of flavours that was very nice indeed. I opted for another classic drink in the Brooklyn, which seemed just slightly limp, perhaps owing to the use of the lighter Sazerac rye, though still well balanced and enjoyable.
I was pleasantly surprised by my visit to The Sanderson. So often bars with incredible design never quite manage to achieve the same perfection in their drinks, but The Purple Bar manages to excel in both. With an interesting menu that covers both classics and more modern creations combined with quality service and beautiful surroundings, The Purple Bar is definitely one of the better hotel bars I’ve come across so far. Recommended.
The Purple Bar is located at The Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, Fitzrovia. Open 6pm to 3am Monday – Saturday. 6pm to 12am Sundays. Over 21s only. Reservations advisable for non-residents.
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7300 1496
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