February 17 2010
Gillian de Bono
When I stayed at the Connaught in November, I didn’t have time to sample the newly revamped (by Parisian designer India Mahdavi) Coburg Bar (first picture). So I made a point of dropping in for a pre-prandial last week. The atmosphere is just as relaxed and intimate, with a roaring log fire, but the wingback chairs and wood panelling now come with a modern aesthetic and an infusion of contemporary elements, including sketch-like cameos either side of the fireplace by Julian Opie.
The bar’s drinks menu includes a brief history of all the cocktails, some of which date back over two centuries. I resisted my default option of a champagne cocktail and asked Mark Jenner, the bar’s genial general manager, to recommend something more adventurous; my only stipulation was that it be refreshing.
Mark guided to me towards a selection of cocktails he has revived from the 1920s and 1930s using Oxley (second picture), a new ultra-premium gin which uses a new cold distillation method to capture the flavours of its botanicals which include grapefruit, orange and lemon peel, meadowsweet and grains of paradise.
I loved Golden Dawn (£13), which was judged the world’s finest cocktail in a UK Bartenders’ Guild contest in 1930 and is a sublime combination of Oxley gin, L Dupont VSOP calvados, Briottet apricot liqueur, H by Hine VSOP cognac, fresh orange juice and grenadine. But Oxley was also deliciously flavoursome just on the rocks.
Cocktails from £12.