American Bar at The Savoy

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Britta Jaschinski
Strand

So, they’ve at last finished sprucing up The Savoy. The plan was to spend a measly £100 million and have it done and dusted within 16 months. But things didn’t quite work out like that, and the refurbishment has taken three years – at a cost of £220 million.

Only a small proportion of this enormous outlay and time has been spent updating the famous American Bar. Traditionalists will be soothed by the white ceiling and sleek curves of the bar, the art deco mirrors and fittings, the Terry O’Neill monochrome portraits and the gleaming piano complete with smooth, tuxedoed pianist playing jazz and crooning every night of the week.

It looks a bit lighter, a bit brighter and fresher but it’s not changed very much at all. Which, in some ways, is no bad thing. After all, you’d be daft to muck about with such an iconic imbibing institution.

Regarded by many as the capital’s classiest custodian of the classic cocktail, the American Bar has been doing a refined line in dapper drinks since 1898.

‘The Savoy Cocktail Book’, written by head bartender Harry Craddock in the 1930s, remains the quintessential cocktail recipe guide, while, among mixologists, the role of head bartender at the American Bar is still regarded as one of the industry’s most prestigious of pouring positions. It’s currently occupied by the award-winning Erik Lorincz, formerly of The Connaught, who has helped compile an American-accented cocktail list updated with a few twists and some of The Savoy’s signature knee-tremblers.

The cocktails are excellent and executed with all the elegance you’d expect for £14 a pop. Thing is, with so many London bars now manned by some of the world’s best mixologists, it’s no longer enough to rely solely on the quality of the drinks.

A revamp of the American Bar must pay homage to the past, but it seems to be stuck there.

Don’t expect to breeze in. On our 6.30pm visit on a Monday, there was an orderly queue waiting for seats to become free (bookings are not taken). Beats standing on a Shoreditch street corner, though.

Venue name: American Bar at The Savoy
Contact:
Address: The Savoy
London
WC2R 0EW
Cross street: 100 Strand
Opening hours: 11.30am-12.30pm Mon-Sat; noon-11pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Charing Cross tube/rail or Embankment tube

Average User Rating

2.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:3
LiveReviews|6
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Enrico

Went for a birthday cocktail and left disappointed and had to complain to the manager. For such a high class establishment we found the decor drab despite the refurbishment, service was poor and drinks over-priced! The carpet, tables and chairs belong to a tired run down hotel from the 80s that lacked ambience and not what we were expecting. So sad as used to love it there but it's not worth the money...

Lauren

This bar is beautiful. Spent a lovely evening here with wonderful cocktails and nibbles.

Rene Pedraza

Not for the Hoi polloi, if you are able to restrain your native instinct for instant gratification and observe the cadence and timing it takes to create each and every classic cocktail fashioned here adhering to strict preparation and ingredients, then prepare to indulge into a long gone world of elegance and subtle charms not easily found in the world today. The Savoy is the standard bearer of a time when ladies and gentlemen understood the meaning of a night out. Dress the part and the angels will indeed descend from heaven to court your highest desires and expectations. Mine own were exceeded. It was a magical, unforgettable experience.

Mpress

For the cost of a drink you would expect staff to be accommodating and respectful. I found the staff to be pompous and rude. Save your money and enjoy the many bars a stones throw away from this hotel.

Celia

I went to have a pre-theatre cocktail with my husband. Service was so bad we had to leave before we even had our drinks served. 15 minutes to taking the order then over 15 minutes more before we decided we had run out of time. Don't waste your time. Ambience was not that great as low ceiling gave a less that luxurious feel.

Marie-Pierre

Swani is an artist, a musicien, a top chef, a yogy who blends his extreme drinks knowledge with work of art for every single for every single person....he shares his passion and history of bartender industry with us. I arrived alone at the bar to try one of those famous drinks I read about in the magazine. Swani made sure all staff speak to me to feel comfortable. The pianist even sang a song for me :) Two others ladies form the US and one other form Denmark joined me at the bar and we created a bond of new girl friendship, sharing stories and watching Swani concotte delicious, exploratory to your pallet famous drinks.