If you’re looking for an excuse to dress up this Winter but you don’t have an occasion, make ‘May Fair Bar’ that occasion.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to hide under hundreds of layers the second the clocks change. Upon meeting a friend for coffee the other day she was positively perplexed as to why I was wearing not one but two turtleneck sweaters under a knitted jumper. And don’t get me started on the oversized coat, which, since entering my life, has revolutionised the pyjama top by facilitating its its use as an outside garment , smug in the knowledge that, no one knows (until, inevitably, I forget and expose it by taking off said-oversized coat in public).
But it’s around this time of year – the ‘hump’ period before Christmas – that I find myself wanting to add a little sparkle to the dark evenings. And sparkly is exactly how you feel as you enter the luxurious ‘May Fair Hotel’s’ bar, situated round the corner from ‘The Ritz’ (ooer).
To tell you the truth I was a bit nervous about trying out this swanky bar. I couldn’t tell if my shaky walk was down to my inability to walk in heels after almost a year of clumpy Doc Marten wearing or if my unsteady footing was a side effect of ‘impostor syndrome’. Probably both.
A quick Google had already informed me that the place was popular with the likes of Paris Hilton and Cheryl Cole. In my experience, high end hotel bars were usually adjacent to stuffy lobbies, and the last thing I wanted was to have people asking which room I was in, or – worse – eavesdropping as my friend told me about her latest Primark purchase.
But when we approached I was surprised. Was this cool, dimly lit bar, bustling with post-work drinkers actually part of the hotel? Apparently so! We were seated quickly and an attentive waitress came over and chatted to us, complimenting us on our outfits and asking about our accents. I sunk back into my uber-comfy chair as she talked us through their winter cocktail menu.
Their seasonal drinks menu is modest, with just five signature cocktails. This stands in stark contrast to their main cocktail menu, in which the options are endless, and for somebody like me who finds it impossible to make a decision, a tad daunting!
‘Our Winter Martini’ complete with marshmallow immediately jumped out at me, and although the creamy concoction tasted the same as a traditional French martini, it avoided the heaviness that some French martinis have, and the cherry on top was – well, the literal ‘marshmallow’ balanced above…
My friend ordered the ‘Pomegranate and Chocolate Crush’ based on the waitress’ recommendation that it is “by far everyone’s favourite”. It was a dream! If, like me, you avoid whiskey based cocktails, don’t be put off. Whoever thought to mix white chocolate liqueur with mint and lime is a downright genius, and the coconut cream gave it a silky texture that seriously tested my willpower and had my friend looking bemused as I tried, and failed, to stop after a sip.
Our second round saw us trying their twist on the traditional ‘old fashioned’. The orange twang was delicious, and although it was strong, it wasn’t overpowering. The hot toddy, however, was on another level. Definitely not for those in favour of the lighter cocktail, but if it’s a kick you’re after, this is the one!
The bar itself had a constant buzz to it whilst also remaining quiet enough to enjoy an intimate drink and, at risk of sounding like my mum, to actually hear one another speak. As we drank, our complimentary basket of parmesan crisps was constantly topped up – something which we certainly didn’t protest, and which probably resulted in us absent-mindedly eating half a block of cheese each by the end of the night.
Speaking of food, we saw – or rather smelled – a couple nearby enjoying some of the bar food on offer, and we couldn’t resist ordering some ourselves. The chicken lollipops and vegetable skewers were delicious, but the mushroom arancini stole the show (‘May Fair Kitchen’, if you’re reading and you have the recipe, please send it my way). Three small plates between two turned out to be the perfect portion size and didn’t fill us up too much – something we were grateful for after devouring countless creamy cocktails by the end of the night.
The whole experience was fab from start to finish. From the extra attentive bar-staff, to the comfortable yet classy interior, to some of the best cocktails either of us had tried, ‘May Fair Bar’ is a winner if you want to ‘splash out’ and let your hair down. I might have returned to my default position of oversized coat and pyjamas, but ‘May Fair Bar’ reminded that I still have some sparkle left in me yet!
Cocktails are available from ‘May Fair Bar’, ‘May Fair Kitchen’ and ‘May Fair Terrace’. For more information or to make a booking: http://www.themayfairhotel.co.uk/en/bars-and-restaurants/bar.html