Mark Ludmon visits the elegant new-look bar and terrace at London’s Hyatt Regency London The Churchill hotel
Come rain or shine, Sir Winston Churchill sits unflappable outside the bar that bears his name at the Hyatt Regency London The Churchill hotel in Portman Square. The life-size bronze statue of the statesman in his younger days, devised by renowned sculptor Lawrence Holofcener, reclines in a chair on the smart new streetside terrace that has been created as part of a revamp of the Churchill Bar.
The interior concept has been inspired not by the familiar rotund Churchill who won World War Two but by the younger politician and army officer of the early 20th century. Interior design specialist Bespoke London drew on the Art Deco movements of the 1920s and 1930s which were an era of traditional craft motifs, machine-age materials, ceramic, stainless steel and gold finishes. The formerly dark wood-panelled Churchill Bar has now been transformed into an elegant, brighter room with a colour palette of dove grey, teal and vibrant yellow.
The lounge seating includes banquettes upholstered in rich teal velvet and yellow leather armchairs, contrasting with the ornate smoky grey timber wall panelling inset with almond gold leaf detailing, bevelled mirrors and the bar’s signature sunburst motif. A focal point is the specially commissioned Otoro crystal chandelier by Theo Venderzalm, while the open fireplace, artwork and other furnishings and accessories add to the feel of a luxurious living room.
Behind the bar with its white lavastone top is a broad selection of spirits and liqueurs, especially Scotch, rum, gin and brandy. The cocktails are a mix of twisted classics and original recipes majoring on British ingredients, created by the bar team in collaboration with Shaker Consultancy.
With the menu changing seasonally, current drinks include the T & Tonic combining Tanqueray London Dry Gin with house-made blood tonic lemonade infused with rosehip and country nettle cordial. The Ale Flip is a modern twist on a recipe dating back to 1695, mixing cream, chestnut paste, goose egg and Elements Eight Spiced rum with Churchill Ale from Oxfordshire Ales, finished with the aroma of nutmeg.
The most popular cocktail is the Trafalgar Sour, made with Colonel Fox’s London Dry Gin with the essence of British orchards in the form of Bramley & Gage Greengage Liqueur and Poire Williams Lesgrevil pear eau de vie balanced with apple juice and fresh lemon. In honour of Churchill’s famous preference for Martinis without vermouth, the Churchill Martini is made with the bar’s citrussy Churchill Craft Gin, made at Sacred Distillery in north London to their own recipe, with a bottle of Noilly Prat placed on the bar but not actually used. The cocktails are priced from £12 up to £15 for sparkling recipes such as Churchill’s Clementine Champagne Cocktail – named after his wife – using house-made Clementine Bitters plus Hine Rare VSOP cognac and Pol Roger champagne.
With Churchill renowned for his love of a fine Cuban, the bar has retained its long-established association with cigars. It has added a state-of-the-art dark-stained oak humidor from DeArt in Italy, offering a selection of 28 cigars supplied by importer Hunters & Frankau ranging from a limited-edition Cohiba from 1966, priced £55, to a Half Corona from H Upmann at £9. Customers can enjoy these on the terrace which features iron furniture, a hexagonal ivory porcelain-tiled floor and discreet wall-mounted heaters, sheltered by the screens and box hedges. In a further boost for the bar, it now has its own entrance onto Portman Square so customers do not have to go through the hotel.
The bar manager is Alan B Cook, who has come from being food and beverage manager at London’s Playboy Club but was previously bar manager at The Ritz’s Rivoli Bar for 10 years and worked at The Lanesborough, The Hempel and Four Seasons London. “We have recruited a team of highly knowledgeable and passionate staff who are on hand to engage guests and take them on a journey through our menu of classic cocktails and fine cigars,” he says.
Churchill Bar, Regency London The Churchill Hotel, 30 Portman Square, London W1H 7BH
Tel: 020 7486 5800
Who did it
Design, furniture, lighting: Bespoke London
Chandelier: Theo Vanderzalm, Otoro
Lighting installation: Lighting Design International
Artwork: Studio Amberly Valentine
Stone tops: Pyrolave Architecture
Lounge chairs: Abbott & Boyd
Bar stools: Altfield
Furniture manufacturer: Decca
Cigar humidor: DeArt