The Churchill Bar – One of London’s Best Kept Secrets

by Katie on March 3, 2013

I have tripped upon the most gloriously glamorous, hidden and as yet unfound ’30s themed bars designed by Brigitta Spinocchia (which only opened at the end of last year). And, I’d like to keep it that way thank-you-very-much so if you belong to the nearby Eurotrash hell-on-earth that is Home House or its East End counterpart *shudders*, Whoreditch House, look away now, thank you. This is not for you.
The Churchill Bar is the new invocation of the previously well-known gentleman’s cigar den at the same location at The Hyatt Regency Hotel on the edge of Portman Square. And it reeks with style and laid-back sophistication with very single detail of the decor and bar offer thought through. It even has the backing of the current Churchill heirs so prestigious and faithful to Churchill’s life have the team at the Hyatt made this hidey-hole. 
The service is more than what we’d expect from a team used to dealing with gentlemen, businessmen, impoverished aristocrats, ladies who lunch and even new (Russian) money. Rigorously courteous and armed with vast knowledge, Alain (the maitre d’) and his team can shore up to the most expert in cocktails, champagnes and cigars as we saw when some very expert bloggers put them through their paces. Letters from Blenheim Palace are displayed upon the wall alongside astounding pieces of modern art that incorporate singed Churchill letters ‘like moths to a flame’. The bar even keeps a magnifying glass so you can review the letters that go to make up the Churchill portrait on the wall. Both painstaking and ingenious, this is an example of the level of detail the bar staff go to emulate the true flavour of a modern ode to the man who personified Britain’s Finest Hour. 
Toy soldiers of the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars, knitted toy animals (favourites of Clementine Churchill – Jock, Rufus and Pig), a selection of Churchill’s favourite books, (of course) Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill Pol Roger and a selection of 28 fine cigars (21 of which are Cuban) are all served, the latter to be enjoyed on the vast modern smoking terrace through glass doors where, in pride of place sits the specially commissioned life-size bronze stature of Sir Winston entitled ‘In Conversation’, sculpted by renowned artist Lawrence Holofcener of ‘Allies’ fame in Bond St.
The menu has a strong identity – cocktails with a true British legacy and a range of expertly chosen whiskies and wines. A bespoke Churchill Craft Gin, distilled just a few miles from the bar, along with house made tonics add to this eclectic menu. A selection of small plates using  some of Churchill’s favourite ingredients such as smoked salmon, oysters and dressed crab with Melba toast are also available.
Signature cocktails include:

T & Tonic – a complex and refreshing house hi-ball blending deep and dry citrus flavours. Tanqueray London Dry Gin is married with house-made blood tonic lemonade, infused with rosehip and country nettle cordial.

Trafalgar Sour  A true tribute to Britain and Churchill. Colonel Foxs London Dry Gin with the essence of British orchards in the form of Gloucestershire greengages and pear liquers balanced with apple juice and fresh lemon.

Ale Flip  A mixture of Churchill Ale shaken with cream, chestnut paste, a goose egg, and a choice of Famous Grouse, Element Eight Spiced Rum, or Rittenhouse Rye finished with the aroma of nutmeg. A modern twist on a recipe dating back to 1695.

Churchill Martini – Legend has it that Sir Winston Churchill liked his Martinis served without any vermouth added, just present in the same room. This martini uses the bar’s bespoke Churchill Craft Gin, distilled just a few miles from Portman Square, heavy in juniper and citrus.

Other international classics such as Holland House, Clover Club, Daiquiri and Sidecar and a selection of hot drinks for the winter months also feature on the menu.

What impressed me about this bar is not only its opening hours (12 noon till 2am), its luxurious vibe and naturally exuding elegance but the service, the link to the arts, the exquisite play with modernism like the crystal chandelier by Theo Venderzalm and spacious bar layout and the effort that The Hyatt team have laboured to make this location work to the maximum. I’ll be back. For sure. But please, sshhh, keep it schtum and on the lowdown.
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