The New American | St James's London


The New American

Drink your way through St James's unparalleled history at The Stafford London's famous bar.

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The nature of cocktail bars has always been to keenly follow the trends and fashions of the day. This proclivity also means dependable flirtations with our enduring love of retro glamour, too. The Stafford London's recent relaunch of their American Bar sees such atmospheric mixology perfectly balanced.

Back in the 1920s and 30s, many of London's hotels jumped at the chance to lure Americans freed from prohibition back home by offering punchy Manhattans and Martinis and changing the name over the door to match. The Stafford's American Bar is one of the last to have kept the moniker. Its other traditions have also been fully respected; the walls heavy with signed celeb portraits and intriguing gifts acquired over the decades.

What is new, other than the expansive marble bar top and Italian and Spanish infused food offerings, is a new collection of cocktails that pays homage to some of the great personalities and places that have given the surrounding neighbourhood its truly unique flavour over hundreds of years.

The 'A Journey Through St James's' cocktail menu makes for a fascinating read, before you've even had a sip of one of the specially created drinks. Maybe you'll opt for The QM, a blend of Tanqueray No.10 with two parts Dubonnet and a slice of lemon tucked under the ice. It's a tribute to the bars regular patron, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, known to get started on her first drink of the day at noon.

The Stafford's role during WWII is highlighted via Three Dots And A Dash, a serious rum, whiskey and coffee syrup blend named after the Morse Code for 'V' as in Victory. During the War, US and Canadian officers were stationed at the hotel and the 380-year-old wine cellars were used as the air raid shelter.

Further perusal of the list reveals a cast of St James's characters, from a fruity gin-based tribute to Jermyn Street's original dandy, Beau Brummell, to The White Mouse, a drink borrowing the nickname of hotel guest Nancy Wake, the French Resistance heroine who evaded Gestapo capture.

Dipping deliciously into the realms of locally-associated fiction, there's The Moonraker, a potent homage to 007 creator Ian Fleming, often found propping up bars in the area in much the same manner as his famous spy. You can also sink The Moriarty, where tequila and mezcal pay tribute to Sherlock Holmes great nemesis, who first tries to kill the famous pipe-smoking detective as he departs a club in St James's.

Who thought a history lesson could ever be so tasty?