Feature: The Bar at 45 Park Lane
Navigating around London can be troublesome to the newcomer; its streets are arranged in a somewhat haphazard manner and the local authorities don’t seem awfully keen on providing street signs that are actually visible. I get around this problem by disregarding the precise address of anywhere, and instead navigating by landmarks. The result is that my memory of a bar’s location usually sounds a little like this, “get off at ‘X’ tube station, turn left out of the entrance, right by the deli with the excellent Iberico ham, head towards the BT tower and it’s just next door to the nice pub with pork scratchings”. This might work well for me, but such directions have in the past landed me in hot water when it turned out the tube station had 3 exits, there were 2 delis on the same road, and the pub is now motorcycle repair shop. It is therefore with a glad heart that I welcome establishments named after their location, such as the newest addition to the Dorchester collection of hotels, ’45 Park Lane’.
With a distinctly art-deco facade, the interior is apparently designed to appeal to the ‘international guest’ with a ‘club-like feel’. Appealing to international guests, with all his/her varying tastes is often an exercise in utter blandness, but in fact it’s all rather pleasant inside here. A rich colour-scheme and plenty of timber result in a sophisticated and contemporary space that very much appealed to me despite my hailing from British shores. My focus of course was the bar which equally has kept a few lumberjacks in business. Seating is leather-clad, with a nice splash of red to liven things up a little. It is neither small, nor indulgently large, instead settling on an intimate and approachable vibe. Luxurious, yes, but most certainly not stuffy.
The cocktail menu is neatly divided by spirit category, with a couple of drinks in each section. This is an all-too-rare approach in my opinion as I frequently start my decision-making process with my preferred base spirit, and so such a division on the menu improves the efficiency of my drink selection markedly. There is a balanced mix of booze-heavy, ‘short’ drinks for the advanced imbiber, and lighter/fresher drinks to appeal to those seeking a more approachable libation.
Tea makes an appearance in several drinks, with infusions of Earl Grey into Tanqueray gin, Lapsang Souchong into Scotch whisky, and Jasmine tea into vodka. These sit daintily on the bar in clear teapots and are produced daily along with the rest of the bar’s homemade ingredients by the restaurant kitchen. The drinks themselves are well executed, flavourful and suitably well-presented. Whilst the selection of base spirits might be considered a little ‘safe’, the addition of interesting and unusual flavours into the mix means the resulting cocktails are anything but. The highlight surely has to be the Umami cocktail which combines Hendricks gin, oba leaf, cucumber, Japanese Umebosi plums, lime juice and grenadine. The result is totally unique and almost indescribable; sweet, sour, salty, and savoury flavours combine with a silky texture to create a drink that challenges the palate, but ultimately seduces.
The bar at 45 Park Lane has all the makings of a world-class hotel bar. The cocktails are more than a match to the plush surroundings, and a thoughtful approach to creating unique flavour combinations make this bar stand out amongst the crowd by carving its own identity.