Zoe Fryday visits Ziggy’s, a new hotel bar that plays homage to music legend David Bowie
Let’s rewind to the year 1973. Following a concert at the Hammersmith Odeon, David Bowie famously held the retirement party for his dramatic alter ego Ziggy Stardust at the Café Royal. Almost forty years later, the iconic Regent Street hotel has debuted a bar in his honour. Aptly named Ziggy’s, the quirky cocktail hot spot is vibrant yet refined, and brings a fusion of heritage and contemporary style to the heart of central London. “So far, feedback has been extremely positive, and has come from people across all backgrounds,” says Fabio Spinetti, bar and beverages manager at the Café Royal. “These include hard-core Bowie fans to walk-in guests looking for a good cocktail and an amazing atmosphere.”
As with any themed or tribute bar, subtly is key. Ziggy’s flawlessly evokes the spirit of Bowie in a stylish way; his character is prominent throughout the space yet doesn’t overpower or dictate the setting. Stylish leather seating in warm orange and auburn tones is emblematic of the star’s signature striking red hair, and beautiful marble tables make a statement alongside classic herringbone wooden flooring. Dimly lit by candlelight, the lounge-style bar plays a mixed soundtrack of classic Bowie hits and pop rock – a cool yet classy chill out zone for guests to kick back and unwind.
A stand out feature of the venue’s suave interior décor comes in the form of a series of photographs, numbered and signed by prolific music photographer Mick Rock. “Mick Rock was David Bowie’s official photographer from the early days of his career and we selected the images with him, choosing the ones that had a special meaning to both Bowie and Mick,” explains Fabio. “Pictures from the infamous ‘last supper’ party that took place in 1973 at HCR are also on display, adding to the unique Bowie experience.”
Adjacent to newly-opened restaurant Laurent, helmed by internationally renowned chef Laurent Tourondel on the first floor, the bar serves up a modern twist on some of Bowie’s favourite drinks plus classics and innovative new creations. Guests can work their way through a range of tasteful tipples inspired by the pop icon’s life and famous album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Each drink is named after a lyric from the influential record, and has been expertly crafted by the Ziggy’s team. A believer in understated and classic cocktails, Fabio’s varied menu caters to all tastes and includes carefully considered liqueurs and garnishes – all nodding to Bowie’s life and eccentric character. With a refined list of 11 cocktails, there is something special to suit every type of palate.
The Tiger on Vaseline presents an elevated version of the classic 70s cocktail, the Piña Colada, mixing cachaça, tanaka spiced rum, roasted pineapple juice and lime juice. The drink is topped with a homemade coconut and white chocolate foam, finishing on a sweet and tropical note. Dark and Disgrace, on the other hand, draws inspiration from several classic cocktails, namely the Rum Flip and Espresso Martini. The combination of dark rum, tawny port, coffee liqueur, sugar syrup and egg yolk creates a light and creamy drink, perfect for finishing off dinner or to start the night ahead. Mezcal fans can indulge in the Loaded Man, which blends the spirit with lime juice, sugar syrup and homemade tangerine and grapefruit soda.
To complement the cocktail list, a selection of exquisitely presented, tasty bar bites and sushi is available directly from Laurent. At the time of ordering, guests get bespoke recommendations from the bar team to advise on what will perfectly match their chosen drink, whether this be a spicy tuna roll to complement the fruity and spicy notes of Animal Grace, or the wagyu short rib in a steamed bun to add that extra layer of surprise to the Tongue Twisting Storm.
Ziggy’s presents a refreshingly unique, fashionable space for hotel guests as well as passers-by and discerning cocktail critics and enthusiasts. Since its opening in September 2018, it has proven popular for private parties and events. “We also hold whisky tastings with journalists and masterclasses with industry legends,” says Fabio. We’re also hoping to launch live music events on a weekly basis and a brand new cocktail menu in the spring.”
Ziggy’s, Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent St, Soho, London, W1B 4DY
Originally published in the March 2019 print edition of Bar magazine.