The name ‘lobby bar’ might give the impression that this is something of an after-thought. Perhaps a venue through which to pass. A prequel to the main event. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It now has a trolley!
One Aldwych and its Lobby Bar occupy one of the most important Edwardian buildings in London. One doesn’t have to have a degree in architecture to be impressed by this hotel. One might remark that it has a hint of Paris about it and indeed it does. In 1889 it was decided to create a link between Holborn and the Strand. The new road was called Kingsway and at the spot where it joined the Strand a sweeping crescent was built, and that is Aldwych. One Aldwych, as the address would imply, stands at the corner. In 1905 celebrated Anglo-French architects Mewes and Davis designed the building we see today.
The Lobby Bar is spacious and retains many of its original features. High ceilings stand testament to its grand past as newspaper offices at the turn of the last century. The windows are original and are a striking feature. If one looks up to the left of the bar one might notice a glass door in a state of suspended animation: that was originally an entrance.
Innovator and inventor
But in truth, unless you happen to have that aforementioned degree in architecture, it’s likely you will be more interested in the bar than the door. It’s a well-stocked and well-staffed affair which offers both classic and contemporary cocktails to its loyal followers. This isn’t just any old cocktail bar. The Lobby Bar at One Aldwych has been recognised as one of the finest. The bartenders are award winners and the Manager is also something of an innovator and inventor too!
Pablo Paulo has created that veritable beverage chariot. It’s the Old-Fashioned Cocktail Trolley. No, the trolley isn’told-fashioned in its design but in its delivery. It’s been made to create the classic Old-Fashioned cocktail at the guest’s table. It does indeed add a touch of tasteful theatre to the experience but it also engages visitors and educates them as well.
This moving bar was launched at the start of 2017. Each Old-Fashioned cocktail is blended to the guest’s personal taste and is prepared at the tableside by one of The Lobby Bar’s skilled bartenders. The permutations are endless; but what actually is an Old Fashioned cocktail?
The first documented use of the word ‘cocktail’ was in response to a reader’s letter asking to define the word in a May 1806 issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository in New York. Later that same month the paper’s editor wrote that it was a “potent concoction of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar.”
The indispensable spirit
The first use of the name ‘Old Fashioned’ for a Bourbon whiskey cocktail was said to have been at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club in Louisville, Kentucky. The Lobby Bar offers as one of its possible components Woodford Reserve American Whiskey. Distillation began on the site of what is now the Woodford Reserve distillery in 1812. It’s the oldest operating distillery in Kentucky and their spirits are considered some of the best of their genre, and the indispensable spirit for the classic Old-Fashioned.
Patrón Silver tequila is a less usual spirit for an Old-Fashioned but, in combination with bitters and flavoured simple syrup, it’s perfect and very different from the classic. This is an ultra-premium white spirit and crystal clear. It’s made using only the finest 100 percent Weber blue agave in Mexico and has a clean fresh taste but still very distinctive.
Rum is another option from the trolley. Pedro has chosen Bacardi’s 8-year-old Rum. This is a refined rum for the discerning palate. It makes a unique Old Fashioned but one which, I feel sure, will become one of the most requested from the trolley.
Monday – Friday: 8.00am – midnight
Saturday: 9.00am – midnight
Sunday: 9.00am – 10.30pm
The Lobby Bar
London WC2B 4BZ
Phone: +44 (0)20 7300 1000
Bar review by Chrissie Walker © 2018