History In The Making

16 February 2024

Straight up, with style, never forgetting the smile - 15 years at The Connaught Bar. Sandrae Lawrence delves into the enduring legacy of The Connaught Bar, where every sip tells a story of sophistication, innovation, and mixology mastery. Join us as she reveals the secrets behind the best cocktail bar in London.

Agostino Perrone still recalls where my husband and I were seated the first time we visited the Connaught Bar. ‘You were just there,’ he says, nodding to the corner table. And, just like that, I’m transported to that evening in October 2008, two months after the soon-to-be hotspot officially reopened.

I remember stepping into the glorious Art Deco-inspired space. Regal yet relatable, glamorous yet inviting – David Collins had cleverly made over the room so everyone fitted in. 

I remember the thrill of being served a welcome drink, a standout touch unheard-of at the time.

I remember our cocktails, mesmerising to watch being made and a revelation to taste. And, of course, I remember Perrone: charming, stylish, personable, every inch the master – now director – of mixology in what was destined to be one of the most highly acclaimed bars in the world.

Rewind to the cocktail scene in 2008. ‘There was a clear distinction between hotel bars and street bars and nothing in between.’ His brief was to bridge that gap.‘The people who love design came in to take photographs and fell in love with the service and the drinks; bartenders who came in for the drinks fell in love with the design and the service; and guests who came in for the service fell in love with the cocktails and design,’ he says proudly.

‘Those three ingredients are always in our DNA – they’re the magical triangle of our values.’

It’s those values that have earned Perrone and his team respect across the globe. And they have the accolades to prove it: ‘World’s Best Bar’ for two consecutive years, ‘World’s Best Cocktail Bar’ and ‘Best International Bar Team’ among a slew of others, including ‘Best International Bar Mentor’ for Perrone, ‘International Bartender of the Year’ for assistant director of mixology Giorgio Bargiani and Class ‘Bar Manager of the Year’ for Maura Milia. Key moments in his Connaught career? ‘When Pierce Brosnan came into the bar and ordered a Martini. Now, whenever he comes in, he calls us all by our names.’

The Connaught Bar – Recipes and Iconic Creations (Phaidon) - Order here

martini glass with lemon peel next to a green bottle of gin
3 glass decanters of spirits on a shelf
cocktail garnish being grated onto cocktail

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