Home

Third time’s a charm. This year’s cocktail extravaganza was hashtagged (as always) with a tip of the hat to the Clash. (See #londonculling and #rockthecasbar entries.)

From our base at the Mondrian London, we headed out to the shard for lunch.

The food at Aquashard is remarkably good. Fuel up!

After lunch, it was off to the Alchemist. Espresso was in the cards since it was early yet.

Next we paid a visit to our friend Alessandro (and delivered greetings personally from Jacques Bezuidenhout) at Duke’s hotel bar. Simply put, Duke’s somehow makes the best martinis in the world. Better to only have one.

Plans called for a visit to the Ritz bar, but we ran into a shoe-ware issue (someone had on trainers that cost as much as a car). So fuck the Ritz. We will be back never.

No worries, the Connaught Bar manned by Micheal was incredibly great. We sat at the bar. Somehow the Connaught became our home away from home with two visits the next day during much fun was had.

We paid a visit to Gerry’s Wines and Spirits to amass a treasure trove of Amer Picon and some very old Cuban rum. Graham and insta-graham were a blast. Gin tasting occurred.

Then it was time for prophylactic ramen at Bone Daddies. Great ramen with a rock and roll vibe. Beer seemed like a good idea.

Bar Swift was our next target. Without a reservation we shlepped downstairs. After a round, our waitress took pity on us and gave us a great round booth. Then we got into the George T Stagg 2016. Wise?? Of course it was wise.

Next up was a visit to one of our all around favorites, the American Bar at the Savoy. Our barman on point at the establishment did what he could to find us some Catoctin Creek rye to use in the Red Lips Rye. He had 24 hours. Sadly, his attempt was unsuccessful, but he did put in a real effort.

We always seem to get stuck at the American Bar for 2 or 3 rounds, after which we head downstairs and transfer our tab to the Beaufort. Two of our party bowed out after the American Bar visit around 10:30.

It was left for the remaining cocktail enthusiasts to pull all of the weight. Down to the Beaufort we went. Frankly we were not impressed with this visit. Though we love the bar and past visits have been fun (if not expensive as hell), there seem to be too many Russians around for comfort these days.

Back home to the Dandelyan it was. We made it in time for fernet and a last call that seems to have involved two CR#2’s and six Liberals. These things happen!

So, after all this we somehow ended up opening a bottle of champagne at 2am on the balcony. That was a bad idea.

You would figure that we had learned our lesson, but we had not. The next afternoon after some ramen (medicinal this time) at Monohon ramen we walked over to the Zetter Townhouse for some hair of the dog.

Which naturally led us back to the Connaught Bar to see Michael again before our fancy night out.

We leave you with a recipe for a Coburg Collins
50 ml London dry gin (no 3)
20 ml lemon
15 ml simple syrup
10 ml fino sherry
2 dashes celery bitters
top up with soda water over big ice.

Mondrian London

May 25, 2018

Another year, another trip to the Mondrian London to preside over a conference. This year we were assigned 457 which is a beautiful room.

The bathroom and shower are just fantastic.

Walk in marble and glass shower with a stool and multiple shower heads. Yes please!

welcome notes galore

We’re here for the view.

An early arrival was super smooth. Room ready. Staff helpful. Operations is markedly improved since last year.

Lunch at Northbank across the millenial bridge is recommended.

As is a visit to the Tate Modern.

kandinsky at the Tate

One of the highlights of the Mondrian is the fact that Dandelyan bar is on the premesis. (On the other hand, the Rumpus Room is to be skipped at all cost.)

Marcus restaurant is super fantastic.

This year we called our cocktail extravaganza
#boaredintheusa. More here.

Five showerheads and perfect weather for the Mondrian London.

We were here just over a year ago running the very same small conference that we’re running this time. Well, actually more like presiding; other people do all of the actual running. Anyway, the Mondrian is still very nice.

We’re in the same room category as last year but up one level in 571. And we’ve already been in Europe for a week, so the obligatory Tate Modern visit is documented here (as is our stay at the Zetter), there is no jet lag to contend with, and we’ve even been to Scotland. Heck, we even went out to the American Bar for cocktails!

All that was left was to taxi across the Thames and check in at noon.

An absurdity happened then. Even though the massive NPS support staff had set things up so that our room would be available at noon (and we arrived at 12:30) the room was “not quite ready.” What? I’m pretty sure we even ended up paying for an extra night just to avoid this. Sorry, Mondrian, please get organized and give us our money back for the extra night! The delay was not long (only 12 minutes), but that’s not really the point.

Does it make NPS happy to sit in the lobby waiting? Nope. Not one little bit.

Here is what 571 looks like. We’ll start with the balcony view on a cold, blustery London afternoon. The temperature has dropped 10 degrees Fahrenheit since yesterday.

The balcony is nice. NPS bets the higher rooms with balconies are even better.

The room is spacious and huge with an outstanding bathroom. No sign of plastic.

Dining nook

Sleeping nook

Working nook

Sitting nook

Having an amenity at greeting was nice. But get this Mondrian peeps, guests have actual names! Wow! You should use them.

Why thank you guest experience team driod from the bottom of our customer id unknown heart.

Amenity

We had to order 4 bottles of sparking water to make us through the week. The Kimpton guys mostly have this figured out. Perhaps the NPS computer record was corrupted since last year?

But you’re reading this for the showers, right? Right!

First, a minor diversion.

Extra bathroom

And now for the main show. The incredible 571 bathroom.

Tub and “water closet closet”

What a shower

Yes please

We’re looking forward to week two in the UK. More here as things develop.

DANDELYAN here we come.

What should get a five showerheads rating (on shower karma alone) reduced to four showerheads for poor guest happiness management skills.

It may be a gray day in London, but it’s blue in room 503 at the Zetter hotel.

And that’s a good thing, because blue is the new red. Loyal readers may recall room 503 used to be red. A complete makeover has occurred making the room cozier and even more modern seeming.

But what’s best is that room 503 was waiting for us when we arrived at 10:15 in the morning after a flight across the pond (about more which see this Delta Does Business posting). So nice to be recognized and taken care of properly. Wonder why the Zetter is better? Well, that’s one reason. Thanks Fabian.

Blue 503 skylight highlight

The Zetter room 503 comfy bed

Zetter sitting now featuring carpet and a modern bar

About the only thing that has not changed is the bathroom which remains nice but small and does feature a tub/shower combo thingy. Tell no one.

The shower is nothing to write home (or blog) about, but it sure feels good after a long flight

The best feature of room 503 is the bank of windows overlooking London. You can see both the gerkin and the shard from bed.

Looking out

Looking in

503 features a fantastic balcony

So all is well at the Zetter. Now we must now manage to stay up all day somehow. Sleep is for the weak.

Stay awake by walking around London in a daze

Lunch at St John is an excellent option.

Real bread at St John

The Tate

As always the Tate is a great place to while away some time. This trip, NPS discovered an entirely new wing?!

Tate Modern

First Iris in London

A sushi dinner at Sosharu was passable. Sosharu is trying to make sushi appealing too close to a train station. Skip it.

Fortunately, a cocktail or two at the Zetter Townhouse was in order. Funny how every time NPS shows up here we have to teach them to make a Liberal all over again. At least they still have the Amer Picon on hand. Back bar fernet with Guy was something that happened.

Amer Picon in the Zetter Townhouse

Also of note during our Zetter time in London:

Dinner at Texture (not as impressive as it should have been).

Brunch at Chiltern Firehouse

A fire at the Chiltern Firehouse in May

A visit to the Artesian bar at the Langham (after tea was ditched in favor of cocktails).

Artesian

Cocktail whose name escapes us

The British Museum

Cocktails at the Aemrican Bar in the Savoy.

The American Bar (wingspan)

A Spinning Jenny is presented on its own little pedestal. Spinning Jenny
45 ml bombay sapphire
15 ml cocchi americano
10 ml pear eau de vie (williams)
15 ml Yerba Mate
15 ml grenadine
soda
Stir. Fizz. Collins rocks. Pedestal.

A new blue five showerheads for the Zetter.

The Zetter Townhouse is our favorite boutique hotel in London. We’ve been many times. One last night in London before flying home in the very swanky upper class on Virgin Atlantic rounded out the twenty day trip.

IMG_1947

Room eleven got a workout this time when the bathtub was actually used!

IMG_1950

IMG_1952

IMG_1948

IMG_1949

But by far the most fun was hanging out by the cat in the bar until all hours. Much fun was had.

Five showerheads and a long recovery over the ocean for the Zetter Townhouse and it’s fine bar.

#LondonCulling

April 16, 2016

Well it seemed like a good idea at the time.

20160415_124459

How many fabulous cocktails bars can you visit in 12 or so hours (without rushing)? Who will be left standing (or wobbling) at the end of the day? And most importantly, who will be culled?

We began at the Hutong restaurant at the Shard. The view was fantastic, the food was good, and the company was superb, but the most ridiculous part was the urinals (with a view over the city).

Our supposedly quick tube ride over to the Savoy was thwarted by British public transportation ridiculousness. Tried to buy three day cards on the underground. One was printed, my card was charged for three and a cryptic error message that was entirely unhelpful was displayed. After 15 minutes trying to solve the problem and get a supervisor to give us a refund, we decided the process was not worth completing. So you owe me 24 pounds London underground!

The best part? We used the tickets once.

We started at the American Bar in the Savoy which has a fancy new menu as of January. As always, the drinks were as pretty as they were delicious.
savoy american

The best drink we had was no longer on the menu—the wingspan. A recipe can be found in this NPS entry.

Wingspan: American Bar: Savoy: London

Wingspan: American Bar: Savoy: London

We had attempted to head down to the Beaufort bar around 4:15 until we discovered that it was not open until 5. That left us time for a wingspan. Then we had our bill transferred down.

The beaufort has an entirely different jibe.

The Pan American Highway
20 ml bacardi 8
15 ml zacapa 23
15 ml diplomatico
10 ml amer picon
2.5 ml fernet branca menta
10 ml roasted coffee maple syrup
3 dashes chocolate bitters
Stir down. Strain. Serve in coupe with an interesting piece of ice.

A few light snacks of gruyere and foie gras were not quite satisfying us at this point. So it was off to find some light dinner.

20160415_182753

We ended up at Blind as a Pig where our very cute waitress was happy to play along with our silly shenanigans. Emergency clothes pins were distributed.

Our emergency clothes pin supplier was remiss to be photographed

Our emergency clothes pin supplier was remiss to be photographed

We did some napkin art as follows, which seemed entirely clever at the time.

Sated with mac and cheese, fish and chips, and other finger food, and protected by our large supply of emergency clothes pins, we were off.

Next up was the posh Connaught Bar. Connaught is run by Sardinians, who would dearly like to have some fun but who are not really sure whether they are allowed to.

We introduced the Connaught to the Liberal.

Then it was midnight and time for the great cull. What happened? Everybody dropped out but NPS! Lol. I believe it might have been wiser to stop myself.

In memorium of those who left us during the great cull #londonculling

In memorium of those who left us during the great cull #londonculling

Instead, it was off to visit the Dandelyon Bar at the Mondrian again. By now it seems that we know everybody, but it was a special treat when Iain Griffiths was in the house. Iain helps Mr Lyan create new properties. The planet is small.

Could this really be a good idea?

Could this really be a good idea?

Finally, all energy was gone and it was up the lift to crash. Candles on the porch were a special touch.

Mondrian London Lobby

Mondrian London Lobby

An actual Mondrian at the Tate Modern

An actual Mondrian at the Tate Modern

Regular readers will know that NPS loves to stay at the Zetter and the Zetter Townhouse while in London. But sadly, the group conference we are hosting this week outgrew the Zetter some time ago. The great news is that the Mondrian London is a fantastic place to stay.

IMG_1514

Located on the banks of the Thames just a hop skip and jump from the Tate Modern, the Mondrian London is modern, chic, and packed with high style. It is part of the Morgans hotel group (which includes the Morgan in NYC).

IMG_1508

NPS is assigned room 463—a nice little suite with a balcony overlooking the muddy river. London graces the far side of course.

View from 463

View from 463

River view from 463

River view from 463

A little table on the balcony

A little table on the balcony

The other half of the balcony

The other half of the balcony

463 has plenty of room to work, to entertain, and to sleep (assuming any of the latter actually happens this week).

Couch in 463

Couch in 463

463 sitting area

463 sitting area

463 desk

463 desk

IMG_1491

IMG_1492

There are two bathrooms in 463, one proper marble palace and the other a powder room for when guests drop by. The shower is fantastic with multiple shower heads and tons of room with nary a bit of plastic in sight.

Wait for it

Wait for it

Fantastic shower

Fantastic shower

IMG_1502

The rest of the property is likewise stylish. Rumor has it that the bars are great too. More about that soon enough!

Yellow submarine

Yellow submarine

IMG_1511

The challenge with hopping the pond in the direction of London is staying up once you arrive. Whiling away some time at the Tate Modern is a common NPS strategy.

Here are some pictures from today’s excursion.

View from the 6th floor cafe of the Tate

View from the 6th floor cafe of the Tate

Machine

Machine

Tower of babel

Tower of babel

IMG_1529

IMG_1530

IMG_1520

IMG_1526

Valentine (for Ivan Arce)

Valentine (for Ivan Arce)

A visit to Dandelyan for a quick bite before a movie was very satisfactory indeed. Dandelyan won COTC’s best new international bar last year. It is clear why. Attention to detail and interesting cocktails to be found. Get the lamb meatballs and the pork buns!

Dandelyan visit with Aiden, Alex and Jack behind the bar

Dandelyan visit with Aiden, Alex and Jack behind the bar

The cocktail list is extensive and interesting, though the use of “refactored” standard drink names is a bit misleading. For example, a quick paw through the menu had me skip right over the Fairchild’s Mule (because it said Mule) and the BDC Negroni as well. That would have been a mistake. When I ordered a “gussied up French 75” Aiden suggested the mule. He was right.

Fairchild’s Mule
40 ml cardamom infused hendrick’s gin [10g cardamom per 700ml hendricks]
2.5 ml clove cordial [could sub in allspice dram for this British treat]
2.5 ml ginger distillate [cantons might work too, but if so drop the syrup]
5 ml simple syrup
12.5 ml lime juice
shake and double strain.
add 20 ml champagne and 20 ml fever tree ginger ale

Porter's gin by Alex Lawrence

Porter’s gin by Alex Lawrence

Barman Alex Lawrence has created Porter’s gin, which is on the aromatic side of the scale towards Hendricks. Alex uses Leopold’s method (without really knowing what that is). He made me a London Calling with his product:
50 ml porter’s gin
15 ml fino sherry
20 ml lemon juice
10 ml simple syrup
2 dashes of Regan’s 6 orange bitters
stir down, serve up. garnish with grapefruit zest

Working at Dandelyan (Gin and Arrack with a house Negroni chaser)

Working at Dandelyan (Gin and Arrack with a house Negroni chaser)

The fact that Dandelyon is associated with the Mondrian is an excellent happenstance indeed. But why does is close so early (M 1:26, T 1:17, W 1:09)?

And the Mondrian has a private movie theater, the Curzon, too. Saw Victoria which helped me meet the staying up on day one goal.

Dinner at Texture was absolutely outstanding. Fish tasting menu was delicious and the wine list was fun to work with. Yet another Michelin star with Jacob!

Five showerheads and high expectations for a super week in London. This entry will be updated as the week progresses.