It had been a while since Wonderland City had organised an event for like-minded sophisticates and the often dreary month of January, with its ill-advised resolutions and post-festive tone loomed darkly. We therefore decided to hold a ‘cocktail crawl’ and chose as the location an area that has never been short of distinguished wearing holes, Covent Garden and the nearby Strand. The season, as well as lingering effects of the “the nasty ‘Flu” meant a lack of riotous crowds, though the establishments we visited were pleasantly lively.
We began at the bar of The Delaunay, one of the stable of Corbin & King establishments, situated in the opulently Edwardian setting of the Aldwych. Our visit proved very topical, as news had just broken of a tussle between the founders of the C&K mini-empire of elegant restaurants and brasseries and their main financial backers.
We are happy to report that on the evening (a Thursday), both the main dining room and the bar area we patronised were well attended (though not manic), the service was attentive and friendly and the drinks up to the usual Corbin & King standards. A further advantage, there, is pricing that while still clearly “of London” is advantageous in comparison with any other joint of similar style.
Photos taken with various ‘field telephones’ do not do the décor of The Delaunay nor the comity of our gathering justice. It was a very satisfying start to the evening and it was with some regret that we tore ourselves away from there. Alas, a crawl is not a crawl if you don’t change venues.
The next stop was the Nomad London, a hotel which has famously been carved out of the former Bow Street Magistrates Court, across the street from the Opera House. For a variety of logistical reasons, two f the three theatrically decorated bars were closed, with the action concentrated in the Atrium Bar.
Like the rest of the Nomad, this is a very well-presented space, with a strong retro feel. The music and the fashionable, relatively young crowd were something of contrast to our traditionally elegant group but we were welcomed very warmly by the bar staff who put on quite a performance of mixology. We look forward to trying out some of the other, arguably more historically flavoured spaces at the Nomad as the season progresses.
Our intended third and final stop proved a brief disappointment, regrettably. We had planned to bring a bit of sartorial dash to the Upstairs Bar at Rules. Unfortunately, despite the place being sepulchrally quiet, an inflexible policy against groups of more than six diverted our attention elsewhere. I trust the pictures that have accompanied this article so far will convince readers that it was not a rambunctious, L-plate -sporting hen night party nor a coachload of gawping, Lycra-clad tourists we were trying to shoehorn into London’s oldest restaurant. Rather, a collection of people about town that would add to the lustre of any place. It was not to be.
To the rescue, then, came the ever-reliable, splendidly maintained Savoy, just a couple of blocks away. The Beaufort Bar, there, remains a beacon of glamour resplendent even in a city, like London, that boasts so many elegant spots. Here, too, the people running the bar proved smilingly efficient and helpful. We have the impression that the enforced separation of the past two years has given those who dedicate their labour to hospitality a warmth and keenness that surpasses that of less challenging times earlier in this century.
As an aside, it is sometimes difficult to put in writing just how spruce the Savoy is. It’s as if they rebuilt it every second year, with none of the clash of raw newness but also no evident sign of aging and carefully considered innovation (the Beaufort Bar, after all, is less than ten years old). Like one of those enviable people who don’t lose their looks as they age.
Overall, then, a very successful jaunt and one we plan to reproduce in months to come. It should be said that, as in previous larks of this sort, the participants were drawn heavily form the New Sheridan Club but we assure our readers that all our initiatives are undertaken in the spirit of utmost inclusivity. Our only requirement is that one makes an effort to be elegant and polite. We think you will agree, all attendees cut quite a dash. For news of upcoming events, please check out our calendar, subscribe to the email updates and follow the Instagram account @wonderland_ct.