Why London's Hotel Bars Are the Best There Is Right Now

London bars secured four spots on our list of the top 20 hotel bars around the world — here's why.

<p>Courtesy of Connaught Bar</p> The Connaught Bar’s martini service is next-level. They offer a martini trolley and mix the cocktail tableside according to your specifications.

Courtesy of Connaught Bar

The Connaught Bar’s martini service is next-level. They offer a martini trolley and mix the cocktail tableside according to your specifications.

For over 100 years, London has been at the apex of drink culture. At the turn of the 19th century, the city was a hotbed for cocktail creativity; some of the first iterations of much-loved cocktails such as the White Lady and the Hanky Panky were crafted by the city’s bartenders. Establishments like the American Bar at the famed Savoy Hotel pushed the boundaries when it first opened in 1893. The launch of the bar’s first cocktail book in 1930, which included 750 original recipes from legendary barman Harry Craddock, only further solidified it, and the city, as a destination for cocktail enthusiasts. In recent years, newer hotel bars have expanded upon that distinction, chief among them: our top-ranked hotel bar among the 2024 Global Tastemakers, the Connaught Bar.

Lively conversations reverberate through the Connaught as members of the bar team bounce from table to table, greeting guests and walking them through the drink menu. The scene feels like it’s played out countless times since the bar’s namesake hotel opened over a century ago, but in fact the Connaught Bar only served its first drink in 2008. And that’s exactly how the team intended it. It’s a venue that seamlessly blends old and new, paying homage to the historic bars that came before it, while taking an innovative approach to cocktails. The cocktail program, overseen by director of mixology Ago Perrone, offers one of the most unique experiences around. Upon entering the bar, each guest is greeted with a welcome cocktail: a small "amuse bouche" tipple that introduces visitors to the tastes and talent they’re about to experience. A Martini trolley makes the rounds, bringing bartenders’ artistry tableside. Every drink highlights the best ingredients. The Bloody Mary, for example, includes tomatoes and lemons imported from Italy and nutmeg from Morocco, and is topped with a light celery foam — a significant departure from the traditional concoction of tomato juice and vodka.

<p>COURTESY OF SCARFES BAR AT ROSEWOOD LONDON</p> Scarfes Bar's dramatic whiskey wall in the Rosewood London hotel


Scarfes Bar's dramatic whiskey wall in the Rosewood London hotel

The Connaught Bar has also sparked a revolution of innovation at London’s hotel bars. Over the past decade, others have followed its lead. Scarfes Bar, which opened in 2013 as the anchor cocktail bar for the then newly opened Rosewood Hotel, replicates the design of turn-of-the-century gentlemen’s clubs, with velvet banquette seating and a central fireplace surrounded by grand bookshelves. The old school vibes are paired with a future-facing menu that offers unexpected combinations, like pandan with Macallan 12-year in the Crescent City cocktail, and blanco tequila with roasted pineapple and white chocolate in the Happy Mistake. When the Langham Hotel opened Artesian Bar in 2007, it became an instant favorite among cocktail aficionados for its use of eco-friendly “future-proof” ingredients such as dried crickets, konbu, and amaranth. Side Hustle opened in a former police station in 2021 that is now the NoMad hotel. Downstairs, the former holding cells have been transformed into an Art Nouveau-inspired speakeasy, and the cocktail menu highlights Latin American flavors through a new lens in cocktails like the Sergeant Pepper, which blends cachaça, tequila, green peppers, coriander, jalapeños, and pineapple.

Related: How London's Classic and Contemporary Venues Are Shaping the Future of Gin

<p>CRISTIAN BARNETT</p> Comfy booths at the NoMad hotel’s bar, Side Hustle


Comfy booths at the NoMad hotel’s bar, Side Hustle

While there’s no shortage of creative cocktail bars around the world, the scene in London stands out. Rather than trying to outdo each other with avant-garde creations, the most celebrated establishments are pushing the boundaries of flavor and technique, while making guests feel incredibly welcome and comfortable in rooms that nod to a classic era. The experiences feel quintessentially London–rooted in the past but always looking to the future.

Global Tastemakers is a celebration of the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. We asked more than 180 food and travel journalists to vote on their favorites, including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. We then entrusted those results to an expert panel of judges to determine each category’s winners. In many categories, we’ve included a Plus One, hand-selected by our expert panel, to shout out more culinary destinations we don’t want our readers to miss. See all the winners at foodandwine.com/globaltastemakers.

For more Food & Wine news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Food & Wine.