Shaken not stirred: London’s Dorchester Hotel opens its new James Bond-inspired bar
The Dorchester Hotel is one of the world’s most renowned luxury hotels.
A London fixture going back to 1931, the hotel has undergone several changes, which will continue throughout the year, and has recently unveiled The Vesper Bar.
The white interiors, from the marble floor and the grand high ceiling with gold trim, as well as the chandelier will catch your eye as you walk into the lobby. As you check in, the wood accent wall behind the reception is captivating with all its details. And for film enthusiasts, the hotel’s involvement with cinema - from hosting BAFTA events to being involved with 007 - will be of particular interest.
Indeed, the hotel is steeped in James Bond history, as 007 creator Ian Fleming was a regular fixture at The Dorchester.
He invented the Vesper Martini for his iconic secret agent, a drink which first appeared in the 1953 book Casino Royale and was named after Bond’s love interest and treacherous double-agent Vesper Lynd.
Fleming often dined and stayed at The Dorchester until his death in 1964. It was then that William Boyd continued the Bond series with his novel Solo; in it, Bond wakes up at a suite in The Dorchester on his 45th birthday. It was also at the hotel that EON, the production company for the James Bond films, had their office where they hosted various press junkets for the 007 films. Fourteen Bond girls, four M’s, and nine Bond villains have been guests at the hotel. So, it’s only fitting that the new Vesper Bar would pay homage to James Bond – and not just by name.
The Vesper Bar exudes the glamour and elegance of the 1930s, and exudes the perfect ambience if you’re looking for a pre-dinner meet up, a date night, or simply a night of relaxed cocktail sipping. The muted lighting adds to the ambience, as the gold hues, the teal seating, and the hints of Art Deco influence make for an inviting space.
Designed by Swedish designer Martin Brudnizki, who is best known for his design of Annabel’s in London, Le Chardenoux in Paris, Baur’s in Zurich, and The Pendry in Los Angeles, there is an extra touch of sophistication on the walls. Cecil Beaton artworks line the walls of the bar in honour of the hotel’s relationship with the artist. A cocktail, The Glass of Fashion, and also the name of one of his renowned books, is on the menu.
Beaton’s work will be accompanied by contemporary artist Rosie Emmerson.
Cocktails on the menu are curated by award-winning drinks connoisseur and head bartender Lucia Montanelli, and the bar itself is managed by Scott Gavin, whose tenure includes time at other London mainstays Scarfes Bar, Tom Kerridge, and Fitz Bar.
Every drink has a history here, and is poured in unique glassware.
There’s the Vesper Martini, of course, but the bar’s signature cocktails have much to offer. The Strawberry Fizz Forever is a nod to the hotel’s musical history that goes back to the 1930s; artists from Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, Dusty Springfield and ABBA have all stayed at the hotel.
As for the Bessie Mae – which features Aluna Coconut rum, Amaro Santoni, guava and kumquat cordial, wild fennel, and ‘bath bubbles’ – it’s a wink to actress Elizabeth Taylor, who stayed 37 times at the hotel. Taylor signed the contract for her renowned film Cleopatra while sitting in a bath in the hotel’s Harlequin Suite. Hence those ‘bath bubbles’.
If you’re feeling peckish – after all, even spies and icons need their sustenance - food is also served at the bar with small portioned plates. These include a classy portion of the Dressed Rock Oysters for £14, Cured Salmon with apple and horseradish for £16, or the Dover Sole Goujons with tartar sauce for £24. And there are two dessert options for those with a sweet tooth: Assorted Macaroons or Hazelnut Parfait with chocolate Rice Krispies, both for £15.
In Casino Royale, Vesper Lynd ended up double-crossing Bond.
No chances of feeling betrayed by The Dorchester and its new Vesper Bar. Go for the cocktails, stay for the atmosphere, and feel free to hum the Bond theme when you enter. If it’s good enough for 007…