There are few places I’d rather be right now than the Explorers’ Bothy at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh. This glam new rooftop whisky bar not only features stunning views of the Edinburgh skyline, it also offers 150 different drams to sample. Then again, its neighbour, 1820, has equally breathtaking views and craft cocktails. Hmm, which to choose?
Once we can travel and socialize again, we know just where we’ll be heading. We’re going to a bar. And not just any bar. The very best bar in the world.
That’s The Connaught Bar, which was named No. 1 by The World’s 50 Best Bars last November, after spending 10 years on the list. It’s an elegant 1920s-style space on the ground floor of The Connaught Hotel in London’s posh Mayfair neighbourhood. The room is both glamourous and cosy. Although it’s a vintage space, it was redesigned by David Collins and relaunched in 2008 with swellegant nods to Cubism and Art Deco.
From the outside, it doesn’t look like much. An awning over a discreet door in a West Loop industrial neighbourhood is the only sign that some of the world’s most exciting cocktails await. But step inside The Aviary, and it’s all subtle opulence, not that you can really tell because it’s so moodily lit.
Besides, your eyes are mesmerized by the team of mixologists hard at work behind the barred windows of the cocktail kitchen, as if captured in a sort of gilded cage.
There is always an element of theatre in a good bar, the dazzle of lights bouncing off a mixing glass, the rows of bottles lining the back bar like so many punters, the deft drama of the barkeep shaking a cocktail to his own overture. But the Beaufort Bar actually is a theatre, or was, back when it was the renowned cabaret stage at The Savoy, where the composer George Gershwin was known to strike up the band from time to time. When the hotel was renovated and reopened a decade ago, it was transformed into this glamorous Art Deco bar, all darkly gleaming in black and gold, perhaps the most romantic saloon in all of London.