It may be pure coincidence that the shape of the American Bar matches that of a grand piano, but since the bar’s inception nearly 130 years ago, music and atmosphere have gone hand in hand with the award-winning drinks. Seven evenings a week, the American Bar’s piano player takes up residence in the middle of the bar to entertain guests with jazz standards and modern classics. From the likes of the iconic Mike McKenzie, who played at the bar for 25 years, to singer and piano player Dave Lewis, and Jon Nickoll, who is in his fifteenth and crystal year of playing the piano at The Savoy, the American Bar’s musicians transform every cocktail experience into a unique and memorable one.
Recently awarded World’s Best Bar at Tales Of The Cocktail 2018, the American Bar’s new menu has been created as a collaborative effort by the American Bar team, led by Head Bartender Maxim Schulte and Director Of Bars, Declan McGurk. Having spent months developing this music-led cocktail concept, the team has worked with the bar’s in-house musicians and delved into The Savoy’s history of musical moments to find the twenty songs that really define the atmosphere of the American Bar and that form the creative heart of the cocktail list.
The structure of the new menu mirrors the track listings of an album, with each cocktail’s title playfully referring to a memorable line in the song that provides its inspiration. The songs themselves, their lyrics, melodies and soulfulness are reflected in the ingredients, styles and spirits used in the drinks. Jazz standard ‘Beyond The Sea’ inspires Somewhere Sailin’ a moody cocktail that reflects the tempestuous nature of the ocean, while Sun, Sun Sun, based on George Harrison’s uplifting track shines with sunny flavours like orange blossom, yuzu wine and lime. Sharing cocktail, I Love You… inspired by the famous Nancy and Frank Sinatra song, ‘Somethin’ Stupid’ is a cocktail duet and Electric Lover, a riff on Prince’s modern classic, ‘Purple Rain’ understandably has glitter as one of its ingredients.
Examples from the new cocktail menu include:
Breathless Charm – ‘The Way You Look Tonight’
Michter’s Bourbon, Muyu Vertiver Gris liqueur, H.Theoria Hystérie liqueur, argan tincture, orange blossom, oppopanax honey, soda
Window into Paradise – ‘Waterloo Sunset’
Beefeater 24 Gin, Cocchi Rosa, raspberry eau de vie, sencha cordial, Prosecco
Crystal Star – ‘The American Bar Song by resident pianist Jon Nickoll’
Star of Bombay gin, Chartreuse & geranium cordial, Muyu Chinotto Nero liqueur, white port
Radio Hurricane - ‘Reverend’ by Kings Of Leon
Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon, Pedro Ximenez sherry, salted chestnut liquor, Cocchi Savoy dry vermouth, papeda
Concrete Jungle - ‘Empire State of Mind’
Woodford Reserve rye whiskey – Calvados – 30&40 Aperitif De Normandie – red wine & rooibos reduction – lemon
What makes The Savoy Songbook menu extra special is the accompanying live album. Recorded by Jon Nickoll, the album will feature a live recording of the songs that can be found in the cocktail menu. When the menu is launched in April, guests will be able to download the album on Spotify and relive their night at the American Bar, whenever they want and wherever they may be.
Declan McGurk says of the new menu; "The American Bar is as much a piano bar as it is a cocktail bar. The aim of this menu and album is to celebrate the unique atmosphere of the American Bar, something our wonderfully talented musicians are integral to helping create."
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