Today, most major cities have 1 or 2 exceptional cocktail haunts, but only a few bars in the world are recognized for their historic influence on cocktail trends. London leads with several establishments that "embody the international style and feel a first-class hotel bar should have," says Simon Ford, director of trade outreach and brand education for Pernod Ricard USA, a producer and distributor of several spirits brands.
Pay homage to a good drink in a classic hotel bar setting the next time you travel overseas. Expect to take your time and receive hand-carved ice, top-shelf liquor, fresh ingredients and extraordinary attention to detail for up to $35 a pop. "It's about taking the time to spoil yourself," says Beefeater Gin Brand Ambassador Dan Warner.
Here are 7 of the world's best classic hotel bars and signature cocktails to try.
American Bar at the Savoy Hotel, London
The Savoy was built in 1889 as the first luxury hotel in Britain. It completed a several hundred million dollar renovation in 2010. Bar Manager Daniel Baernreuther now takes up the position held by legendary Prohibition-era bartenders Ada “Coley” Coleman and Harry Craddock, who wrote The Savoy Cocktail Book. He ensures every day feels like it would it in a 1920s-era bar. A live pianist plays classic American jazz 7 days a week.
Try the White Lady: dry gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and 1 egg white.
Artesian Bar at the Langham Hotel, London
The Artesian opened in 1865 as Europe's first "grand hotel." It prides itself on its rum selection and features regal-like gold and plum Asian-inspired Oriental decor. The bar takes pride in its garnishes; ice is machine-carved into pucks and balls with the Artesian logo.
Try the Alexino: Ron Zacapa 23-year-old rum shaken with fresh whipping cream and red bean paste.
The Bar at the Dorchester Hotel, London
The hotel underwent an extensive facelift a few years ago and introduced an innovative drinks program run by world-renowned "alchemist" Giuliano Morandin. Its signature cocktail, the Martinez, was first listed by bartender O.H. Byron in 1884 and is said to have inspired the martini and the Manhattan.
Try the Martinez: The Dorchester Old Tom gin, Punt e Mes, maraschino and Boker's bitters.
Dukes Bar at the Dukes Hotel, London
Frequented by James Bond author Ian Fleming, DUKES Bar is said to have inspired the classic Bond movie line, "shaken, not stirred." It's famous for martinis and personalized cocktail creations, which are made tableside by the bartender."The theater of making the drink … defines the attention to detail," says Warner.
Try Fleming's Classic Vesper: No. 3 gin, Potocki vodka, Angostura bitters and Lillet blanc.
Bar Hemingway at the Ritz Hotel, Paris
Ernest Hemingway's favorite watering hole has been restored to its original look, with wood paneling and leather arm chairs. The bar stocks Hemingway's favorite single malt whiskeys and is run by Colin P. Field, Ritz's barkeep since 1994, who invented several famous original cocktails. It claims to have created the Sidecar cocktail, which, using a Ritz Reserve cognac from 1830, costs several hundred bucks.
Try the Cider Ritz: apple juice and champagne.
Stravinsky Bar at the Hotel de Russie, Rome
A glamorous celebrity hangout, the Stravinsky features a classically decorated bar. The 1837 landmark was one of the first bars to introduce the cocktail culture to Rome and remains famous for its sweet "aperitivo" concoctions.
Try the Negroni: gin, Campari and sweet vermouth.
Long Bar at Raffles Hotel, Singapore
Go to the Long Bar for a stellar drinks program that features hundreds of alcoholic concoctions and an informal, cozy atmosphere inspired by the Malayan plantations of the 1920s.
Try the Singapore Sling: gin, cherry brandy, lemon juice and club soda.