The Best International Hotel Bar Greets Guests With a Welcome Cocktail and Martini Trolley

Choosing your own bitters at the Connaught Bar is a rite of passage for cocktail bar fans.

<p>Courtesy of The Connaught Bar</p>

Courtesy of The Connaught Bar

If ever pressed for time in the Big Smoke, skip the slow-turning London Eye and go have a Martini at the Connaught Bar. It’s London’s cocktail equivalent of eating a sandwich at Katz’s Deli while visiting New York City — a rite of passage. At this award-winning hotel bar, which has just reached its milestone 15 years of service, there’s a bit more elegance to the occasion.

Upon entering, leave your jacket in the cloakroom, sit down, and enjoy the show, because that’s exactly what an experience at the Connaught Bar is. Magic is conjured through every part of the experience. It starts with a beaming smile from a host who swiftly guides you to your table, framed by textured walls in platinum silver leaf and a cool gray bar that serves as the room’s focal point.

The staff at the Connaught Bar ensure you’re never left too long without a drink in-hand, and as you settling into plush leather seating to peruse the menu, a tiny welcome drink is placed on the table to ease you into the experience.

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

Guests of the Connaught Bar are encouraged to embark on a cocktail-filled journey through their conceptual menu “Synergia.” Book-ended by timeless Connaught Bar classics and a robust selection of wines, the menu is divided into three primary sections: “Self,” “Other,” and “Synergy.”

The cocktail list offers 15 signature drinks, in a nod to the bar’s 15th anniversary. The Icebreaker is a blend of Jamaican rum, pisco, sherry, peanut butter, fermented banana, verjus and Abbot’s bitter, which strikes a perfect balance of familiar and peculiar. Faithfulness, made with bourbon, tamarind, sesame, gin, Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto and grapefruit oleo saccharum is as fortifying as it is uplifting. Tequila lovers cannot leave without tasting the Kindred Joy, an immaculate Paloma-style cocktail with notes of chili, yuzu and tomato.

Servers at the Connaught Bar are always happy to walk you through the menu, or to help you go off script. But any occasion at the Connaught Bar should always be punctuated with one of the bar’s world-renowned Martinis.

Even though the drink itself is delightful, what’s particularly special about this Martini is the ceremony that surrounds its service. Designed by the director of mixology Agostino Perrone, who has led the bar since its opening in 2008, the Connaught’s Martini service begins with one of the bartenders rolling up a black lacquer Martini Trolley tableside. The bartender then presents a collection of custom aromatic bitters — tonka bean, lavender or Perrone’s own “Dr Ago,” a blend of bergamot and ginseng — and invites guests to select their flavor profile. Once a specific path has been chosen, the bartender gracefully builds the Martini tableside, stirring the liquid over chunks of crystal-clear ice.

Finally, the Martini is poured overhead into a hand-etched Connaught Bar crystal glass while the bartender expresses lemon zest into the stream to fully integrate its oils. The cocktail may be $35, but it’s worth every penny.

It’s rare to see a bar uphold such high standards for as long as the Connaught Bar has. But having recently published its first cocktail book and celebrating 15 years of service, the program here is still going strong. There’s never a bad time to drink at the Connaught Bar but, but there’s also, arguably, never been a better time.

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

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

Read the original article on Food & Wine.