loti drinks | the american bar at the stafford

The American Bar at The Stafford recently had a big refurbishment and now not only does it have a new look, it’s got a new cocktail list inspired by the local area and a new bar snacks menu designed by Ben Tish, so we swung by to have a little peek.

Although it’s had a makeover, the space still has that very classic feel you associate with hotel bars – we’re talking a marble bar, mahogany panelling, and green and brass accents, and a sense of history has been retained with photos of famous guests on the walls, plus donated ties, caps and other memorabilia hanging from the ceiling.

On the cocktail menu, called Journey Through St James’s, each drink has been created in homage to a local story, event or place. The Moonraker (made with gin, rhubarb liqueur, framboise liqueur, champagne and elderflower) is so named because the gentlemen’s clubs of St James’s were popular with MI5 and MI6 men like James Bond creator Ian Fleming, is sweet and fruity but delicate at the same time. The Moriarty (Don Julio tequila, Vida mezcal, blood orange, grapefruit, agave and lime), which is super refreshing with a hint of smokiness is inspired by Sherlock Holmes’s famous enemy, who tried to kill Holmes for the first time as he left The Diogenes Club, which is said to be based on the British Academy. The whole menu really gives you a sense of the history of both the area and the hotel without resorting to any gimmicks, and crucially, without compromising the taste of the drinks.

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Food-wise, it’s very much a tapas-style selection of bar snacks as well as charcuterie from Cannon & Cannon, and given Ben Tish’s success at the Salt Yard Group, it’s not surprising that the plates have been done well. We let bar manager Benoit Provost recommend dishes for us – he’s been at the hotel for 25 years so it’s safe to say he’s an expert – and we weren’t disappointed. The spring pea croquettes, vibrantly green underneath a crisp crust, with truffle aioli; goat’s curd, orange and pistachio stuffed gordal olives; and calamari with ink aioli were all winners, and there’s also a selection of larger plates if you want a full meal (or just don’t wanna share).

The American Bar was packed on our Wednesday night visit so it seems the revamp has gone down very well and if you’re looking for a little old-school elegance, this really is the spot.

16-18 St James’s Place, London SW1A 1NJ