This is undoubtedly one of the most noteworthy hotels in London. St Ermin’s welcomes guests with iconic architecture and unique ambiance (read more about the hotel here). It has other advantages too: The Caxton Grill (read my review here) and its associated bar. That is a convivial space with not only drinks but a lot of history as well.
During the 1930s St Ermin’s became the hub for British intelligence services. It remained that way through the Second World War and was the birthplace of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). The unit planned covert operations during WW2, from their headquarters – a floor of St. Ermin’s Hotel, whilst MI6 were stationed two floors up. SOE agents printed secret messages on pieces of silk, and an original sample hangs in the foyer. In the 1950s the infamous Cambridge Five double agents including Philby, Burgess and Maclean would meet their Russian handlers in the bar to pass on classified documents.
The Caxton Bar area is cosy and intimate and celebrated for its Signature Cocktails. There are also The Cambridge Five Cocktails and they are named after those aforementioned double agents. Yes, there are plenty of other cocktails, both classic and virgin, but a first visit here should include a taste of those spy-inspired mixed drinks.
The Cambridge Five Cocktails
Homer – aka Donald Maclean, is raspberry vodka, Grand Marnier, lime, honey, cranberry, ginger beer
Hicks – aka Guy Burgess, is Champagne and St Germain Elderflower Liqueur. This is refreshing and floral, and perfect for warm weather.
Stanley – aka Kim Philby, is Cognac, Triple sec, fresh lemon juice, Maraschino Liqueur. A rich and full-bodied cocktail.
Tony – aka Anthony Blunt, is London Dry Gin, honey, lemon juice, Dry Vermouth. That honey is produced by hard-working bees on the roof of St Ermin’s.
Liszt – aka John Cairncross, is Limoncello, Champagne, raspberry, gomme syrup, basil.
Amongst The Caxton Bar’s signature cocktails is the Stefano, made with gin, blackcurrant jam, crème de menthe and lime; and for those looking for a non-alcoholic libation I can highly recommend the virgin Piña, a thoroughly convincing version of a Piña Colada.
The bar is a must-visit for any guest interested in St Ermin’s colourful history, but it is equally a fine spot to meet friends and enjoy a well-crafted cocktail. Christmas is almost here and the Caxton Grill is right next door, so one could easily spend an evening enjoying an aperitif and then dinner.
The Caxton Bar opening times: all day 11am -10.30pm
Weekends and Bank Holidays: 12pm – 10.30pm
2 Caxton Street
Phone: 0207 227 7777