A smoky odour filled my senses and was quickly ‘extinguished’ by a fresh and herbal kick. The Never Give In cocktail at The Churchill Bar certainly looked pretty with its mint green glow and sprig of smokey rosemary floating on top. But I wasn’t expecting a tipple quite as extraordinary and offbeat in flavour as this.
To give a little context – in case you don’t already know; The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill Hotel is themed on the Great Briton, Winston Churchill. And as our waiter lifted the glass dome from the elegant thin-stemmed glass, he explained that The Churchill Bar’s mixologists were inspired to create this drink after visiting the Cabinet War Rooms in Westminster. It was here of course, where Churchill often took to the roof to watch the devastation during the Blitz.
The green chartreuse in the cocktail represents the medicine given to the injured during the war, the headiness of the absinthe represents the bravery and courage of the soldiers, and the smouldering rosemary symbolises the smoke and devastation that Churchill witnessed around the bunkers.
The terrace here is just gorgeous. Decked out in gorgeous furry rugs, twinkly lights, antlers on the walls and cosy blankets, it dawned on us that we couldn’t have picked a more fitting night to visit. It was May 7th – General Election Day. So as we heard historic stories about one of Britain’s political icons, another landmark in British politics was about to happen.
We’d ticked our voting boxes and we were at the end of one of the most highly anticipated campaign countdowns we could remember. Whether or not I agreed with everything Churchill stood for is another thing. But his determination to steer Britain through its darkest hours is one that’s certainly remembered in this hotel. So in honour of his famous quote ‘Never Give In’, we clinked our glasses and deliberated over which political direction our country might go in the next morning, while, enjoying a seriously good cocktail.
Whether you’re interested in looking back at British history or not, The Churchill Bar is a seriously interesting place. While there’s a slight European ski lodge feel about the terrace (echoed in their Green & Blacks winter warmer cocktails), everything is equally very decadent and slick.
Men chat and smoke cigars (there’s an extensive cigar menu here), waist-coated staff serve you fondue and top up your bar snacks (which include the most delicious but waist-expanding cheese bread sticks). Meanwhile, they’ll tweak the overhead heaters to make sure you’re not too hot, or too cold. The service is seamless.
Alongside some delicious canopes I scoured the bar menu for one of my favourite drinks of all time, the champagne cocktail. The Churchill Bar version is inspired by Winston’s wife, Clementine. So the brown sugar cube is infused with a house-made Clementine Bitters and VSOP Cognac. The fizz is Pol Roger, Churchill’s favourite, apparently. It was just delicious.
Meanwhile, Mr C wanted another drink with with a herbal kick so the Snap Dragon had his name all over it. If you like the sound of a Penderyn Sherrywood whisky combined with a dry La Ina Fino Sherry and the herbal flavours of a Benedictine liquor, this one’s for you, my friend. There are long lingering flavours in this one and the addition of a marmalade tang and nutty sesame oil is just genius.
To end our night, we moved inside into the art deco setting of the Churchill Bar and cosied in the banquet seating to order one of the Churchill Bar’s signature teapot cocktails inspired by the Prohibition era.
Now I adore Indian chai tea, but never did I think I’d be drinking this within a boozy context. Let me introduce you to the Maître de Chai.
With Grey Goose Vodka, contreau, lime and (more) absinthe, the effect of this cinnamon and cardamom home-made chai syrup was something else. One of the Churchill Bar staff prepared this in front of us – complete with a fabulous service trolley and a stunning silver tea set. The service and style here is incredible.
You can add as little or as much chai syrup as you like to alter the sweetness. A piece of candied pineapple is then placed into the glass. The taste is just heavenly.
To add a final, theatrical feel to our evening, Mr C picked the rather decadent Woodford Reserve fume. This one’s mixed with a Chinese Lapsang Souchong Tea, homemade walnut syrup and garnished with an absinthe flamed walnut. And it appears that ever since I had the masterclass with Woodford Reserve ambassador Tim Vernon, I too, have a real taste for this small-batch whiskey. So much so, I kept stealing a sip.
There’s a very special feel about The Churchill Bar – the thoughtfully mixed cocktails, geometric angles of the bar and elegant interiors embrace you with a nostalgic warmth. Yet the contemporary lines and beautiful coffee table books around you keep you firmly in the modern world.
As our very decadent Election night came to a close, we watched one of the bartenders create another ‘Never Give In’ cocktail for their guests and wondered which elements of British history they’d be celebrating through food and drink in years to come. For the sake of the next generation, I hope they’ll taste as good as this. I already want to go back.
Until next time x
The ‘Never Give In Cocktail‘ is available at The Churchill Bar alongside a number of Churchill inspired hotel experiences. For more information, go to the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill website.
The Churchill Bar, 30 Portman Square, London, W1H 7BH
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