With the Olympics only a year away, we are seeing incredible amounts of investment in London’s hotels. And with these luxury hotels come new and refurbished bars that are adding to the capital’s cocktail scene. Over the past few months, stylish new bars have included W Lounge bar and Wyld at W London and Amaranto at the totally revamped Four Seasons Park Lane, while last year saw the revamp of bars at Flemings Hotel and Hilton London Green Park hotel in Mayfair. Literally over the road from the Four Seasons is the InterContinental London Park Lane hotel which has gone big on gin with its new Arch bar.
The new-look bar has been created out of the shell of the existing lounge bar but has been given a whole new lighter look and been opened up to draw more people in. Its large windows provide unobstructed views over the outside gardens and parks and the Wellington Arch which inspired its name. It is next to the lobby and reception, separated only by a see-through screen instead of a former wall that cut it off from the bustle of the hotel.
You can tell that the Arch is all about gin as soon as you arrive: transparent containers of botanicals are set into the bar counter while about 25 different gins fill the back bar as part of a broad selection of premium spirits. The drinks menu offers gins by region, from England and Scotland through to the US and France, plus the odd genever. Martinis are served in a mini shaker at the table alongside a chilled glass containing appropriate garnishes or bitters. A “Gin Hour” every day between 5.30pm and 6.30pm allows customers to sample the bartenders’ daily special. When we visited, we were treated to a classic Martinez paired with morsels of foie gras, apricot and juniper chutney.
The cocktail list is inspired by classic and vintage recipes, priced at around £14 to £16 each, put together by bars operations manager Wayne Duprey, food and beverage director Helen Douglas and assistant bar manager Stefano Filis. The Old Time Tipple is a version of a Bloody Mary made with Berkeley Square, the gin introduced last year by G&J Greenall. Mother’s Ruin uses Six O’clock Gin mixed with cherry liqueur, cassis and lemon juice, served in a Collins glass. There is an option for this cocktail to come with a chunk of CO2 which makes it bubble “like a potion”, Wayne explains.
But it is not just about gin. Other cocktails include the Unlikely Knight, made with reposado tequila, ginger, chilli syrup and mango, served in a Martini glass. The bar also offers a good selection of wines and beers featuring many English labels. With its stylish furniture and interiors by Richmond International, the Arch combines the classic with the contemporary in both its elegant design and its excellent drinks.
The Arch Bar. InterContinental London Park Lane, 1 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7QY. Tel: 020 7409 3131.