The Connaught Bar
Photography by The Connaught
Words by Simon Difford on 23-Feb-2023
The Connaught Hotel, 16 Carlos Place, London, W1K 2AL, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 207 499 7070
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Sat 16:00-01:00
Style: Hotel bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: High-end
Food: Plates & dishes
I remember the former American Bar, the bar that occupied this space at the back left corner of The Connaught before the original wooden panelling was glammed up with several layers of gold and silver spray paint by designer David Collins. I also remember a very young and proud, then New Head bartender, Ago Perrone, showing me around prior to its 2008 opening. He was right to be proud he set his bar on track to be repeatedly awarded as one of the world's best while being personally recognised as International Bartender of the Year.
The Connaught continues to impress as one of the capital's finest cocktail emporia. Now Director of Mixology, Ago continues to run a tight ship, aided by Giorgio Bargiani and Bar Manager, Maura Milia.
Crocodile skin booth seating and low chairs surround bijou round tables under the original ornate ceiling. The design and layout mean the bar appears as a glittering stage at the end of the room, reflected in the polished marble floor.
Slick customer service is all the better by virtue of the fact that it remains an accessible and non-too-snooty venue, frequented by regulars as well as those seeking cocktail enlightenment. Drinks are exemplary and worth the expense.
New incarnations of the impressive menu continue to be released and I updated this page in mid-February 2023 after visiting to sample the Synergia cocktail list, which I'm told "reflects a journey through the feelings and thoughts that move from an introspective to a collective sphere. Culminating in a shared experience that revolves around unity and empathy." I've published the full press release below as you may want to take in the philosophy behind the menu before visiting.
Besides these new cocktails, old favourites such as Ago's Mulata Daisy continue to be popular and Ago responded to my request for a classic daiquiri by mixing a delicious rendition of the classic with a split Appleton 12 and Bacardi Carta Blanca base. However, the real theatre starts when someone orders a Martini and the trolley is wheeled table-side soon followed by a glistening stream poured from a height into a chilled elegant glass.
'SYNERGIA', THE NEW COCKTAIL MENU
"London, 20 February 2023 - The multi-awarded Connaught Bar has presented its new cocktail list. Named Synergia, it reflects a journey through the feelings and thoughts that move from an introspective to a collective sphere. Culminating into a shared experience that revolves around unity and empathy, Synergia ultimately translates the Connaught Bar's approach to hospitality. The team led by the legendary Agostino Perrone, Director of Mixology, Giorgio Bargiani, Assistant Director of Mixology, and Maura Milia, Bar Manager, has always championed an unrivalled dedication to the guest experience. This year, marking the 15th anniversary of the Connaught Bar, the team has designed a menu that sums up and extends its legacy at the same time. By putting human actions, reactions and interactions at the heart of the liquid creations, Synergia offers an immersion into relatable emotions that bring the guests and the team together in a celebration of hospitality.
Self, the first of three chapters, focusses on our most personal layer, with five cocktails that take inspiration from feelings and ideas we experience as individuals. These are flavour combinations that reveal profound perspectives, where the human journey begins. Daydreming prompts a reverie of faraway flavours and moments, with the attention drifting to a direction of good-feeling and inspiration. A re-imagination of a Negroni with tropical notes and a refreshing, sparkling finish, the cocktail is created with Brugal 1888 Rum, Apostoles Sherry, Connaught Bar Sweet Vermouth and Bitter mix, tropical milk jam and Laurent Perrier La Cuvée. Soothe My Soul features herbal and soothing flavours alternated to tickling notes, championing moments of calm and self-reflection, with Stolichnaya Elit Vodka, Everleaf Forest, Podere Santa Bianca Liquore N.4, Fix8 Ginger & Turmeric Kombucha and Quinby's Chili Honey.
With the second chapter, Other, we move to the surface as we approach the others. Mixed feelings and perceptions start taking shape through flavours defined by immediacy and deception. Icebreaker, first cocktail in this section, is an emblematic serve reflecting the primary act in the human approach, the one that facilitates the building of a connection. Visually, the act is represented by a block of ice split in two and bound by a banana leaf lace. The cocktail breaks through the palate with a bold flavour first, then it leaves room to a rounder and gentler blend, reflecting the team's kind predisposition towards guests. Ingredients are Appleton Estate 12 Rum, Barsol Pisco, Del Duque Sherry, Roasted Peanut Butter, Fermented Banana, Verjus, Abbots bitter. Your Point of View cocktail takes inspiration from the changing perspectives of first encounters. Putting the guest at the heart of the drink experience, colours and flavours vary according to the point of view, with a stainless steel glass reflecting the image of the holder and a rainbow of coloured pigments on top of the foam for the guests to mix their nuances. The flavour profile – with Roku Gin, a cheesecake mix, Hundred Hills New Make Wine, Acqua di Cedro Nardini and cider – blends sweet and sour notes, with a defined yet cloudy texture, depending on the guest's point of view.
With Synergy, the third chapter, we reach the final stage of the journey to embrace that sense of togetherness that is hospitality. Individuals become a collective, gestures become rituals, liquid stories become synergy between the guests and the team. Kindred Joy takes a favourite classic such as the Paloma and elevates it to a celebratory ritual thanks to a serve poured in a glass wine from a magnum bottle, like on special occasions. The creation equally elevates the flavour of the classic recipe with a carbonated mix of Patrón Silver tequila, Three Spirit Spark Blurred Wine, Yuzu syrup, Ancho Reyes Verde Chili Liqueur, Fever-Tree Pink Grapefruit Soda and Ikigai La Tomato Liqueur. Embodying the cohesive element that combines a connected whole, Synthesis cocktail features a concentrated Campari liquid that bonds the rest of the ingredients for a flavourful long serve of Overproof Oaxacan Rum, Roasted Pineapple & Cardamom Shrub and London Essence Peach & Jasmine Soda.
Speaking of Synergia, Perrone says: "Working collaboratively and extensively as a team, we have started comparing our emotions, how we feel about the synergy among us and between us and the guests, and how all these contribute to our creative process and approach to hospitality. Synergia is the natural result of a 15-year journey focussing on the best possible experience we can offer to the people who walk through the door of the Connaught Bar, with each team member adding something new and fresh to a long-standing, unvaried vision."
Bargiani adds: "Our creative process as a team never follows the same path. However, the results we achieve express a sort of consistent aesthetic and flavour standards that carry the signature of the Connaught Bar team. It's like our mixology golden ratio, and the same applies to hospitality when we deliver the guest experience. Maura Milia continues: "With Synergia, we wanted to put the feelings and ideas that help us set such standards at the heart of what people will taste, listen to, and respond to. And perhaps, what we will gather from our guests this year will inspire us to forge our next chapter."
Synergia menu consists of 15 drinks including three non-alcoholic cocktails, one per chapter, with prices ranging from £16-30, and is available now at the Connaught Bar."