Do you like your martini shaken or stirred? I prefer mine trollied, actually. That’s what you get when you order the classic drink at this bar within plush City playground The Ned – a trolley rolled to your table. London already has a few trolley-bar hybrids, but the pair of wheeled wonders used here are undeniably adorable vehicles that come up to (low-slung) table height and are topped with vintage glassware and the odd elegantly placed book in keeping with the theme. It’s like the Oliver Bonas gift section, but posher.
I wasn’t accorded the privilege of table-side service from white-suited staff, though, since I’d neglected to book in advance. Don’t do as I did – this little bar was packed with hotel guests evidently undeterred by the steep cost of a cocktail: £16 is as low as they go (although you can get a martini crafted from vintage spirits for £100 if you’re really unfazed). Our spot up at the bar – beside a copy of ‘Lorna Doone’ – was enviable, however, since we were able to quiz a dapper bartender on the drinks. The rumblings of a jazz band and some rowdier drinkers did echo down the corridor, but the bar has an atmosphere of its own, among surroundings of gorgeous furniture and leather-bound books, which justifies the splurge.
The common ground on the signature drinks list is champagne, where it’s used as either an effervescent top for your tipple or crafted into cordial to really sweeten the deal. I witnessed the latter in a champagne martini, a citrussy, balanced drink that didn’t go straight to my legs, unlike the house martini my friend ordered. Fans of the inimitable classic will enjoy the elegance of drinking one here – using a house blend of vermouth and orange bitters – just as much as the inelegance of staggering out afterwards. Getting trollied has never looked so good.