West End Legend ‘The American Bar’ at The Stafford London Celebrates UK-US Special Relationship
22 Jun 2015
- During WW2 The Stafford London served as a club for American and Canadian officers until 1945
- Nancy Wake, a highly decorated war hero continues to influence The American Bar with ‘The White Mouse’ cocktail honouring her
- The American Bar’s collection of memorabilia is a mix of items donated by guests started by an American who donated a wooden carving of an American eagle
- Monthly Cocktails, each with its own unique story created with UK and US influences
In the heart of St James’s sits The American Bar, a London legend, brimming with a unique history and character, the perfect destination to enjoy cocktails with true spirit. During the 1930s, it was the fashion for most West End hotels to rename their bars ‘The American Bar’ in order to attract the business of the increasing numbers of North American visitors. The Stafford London is one of only two bars in London who retained the name.
With the US friends came the US drinks that the intimate bar is now famous for such as Manhattans, Sidecars and Martinis. The personal gifts that decorate the American Bar have been donated mainly by North American guests over the years and include trophies, flags and other mementos from across the Atlantic.
Just to the left of the bar, guests will find a very special, always reserved bar stool. This was the bar stool chosen by Nancy Wake who visited and stayed at The Stafford London for two years. Every day, she would enjoy a Gin & Tonic. Nancy Wake was a highly decorated war hero, working in the French Resistance. One of the most popular cocktails at The American Bar is dedicated to Nancy Wake. The ‘White Mouse’ is the cocktail. The name was chosen as this was the name the Nazis called Nancy Wake because she was never caught. The ‘White Mouse’ is made with Saffron Gin shaken with lemon juice and honey and Champagne is also added with star anise to garnish. The cocktail is priced £18.00.
The American Bar delivers a strong selection of both Martinis, Scotch Whisky and American-style Whiskeys along with a monthly signature cocktail. Other standout US themed cocktails include the ‘Pride of Baltimore’ made with Bacardi white run with a touch of Dubonnet together with orange Curacao, orange bitter and grapefruit juice.
The team at The American Bar deliver colourful stories and tales from across the years. Bar manager Benoit Provost joined The Stafford London in 1993 whilst head mixologist Erik Rychnavsky continues to ensure each cocktail is related to a special Stafford story. The American Bar serves lunch, dinner and light bites throughout the day.
The 2001 film Charlotte Grey featuring Cate Blanchett adopted from the novel of the same name, drew inspiration from Nancy Wake (pictured below in “Nancy’s Corner” at The American Bar). Many countries including the UK, US, France and Australia, awarded her several honours after the war. The UK awarded her the George Medal whilst the US awarded her the Medal of Freedom.
But The American Bar doesn’t forget its place in the heart of London with new seasonal cocktails including one dedicated to the Wimbledon tennis championships the ‘Centre Court’ cocktail. The cocktail delicately fuses vodka, Southern Comfort shaken with peach puree, passion fruit syrup and a dash of peach bitters, topped up with Champagne Lanson, priced £18.00. Laurent Perrier is the house champagne at The American Bar and available throughout the year.
Visiting The American Bar is similar to being in a gallery. Every available wall and surface is crammed and aside from diverse memorabilia, celebrity fans have also signed photographs for the walls. So excited with the quantity of items on display, long term guest at the hotel, Peggy Clare decided to write a book about the bar and its memorabilia having stayed at the hotel on numerous occasions over a 30 year period. ‘Ties That Bind, A Biography of a Bar’ by Peggy Clare was published in 1990. The bar opens out onto a wonderful mews outdoor terrace ideal for alfresco dining and cocktails.
Raise a glass at The American Bar and forge a special relationship with classic and contemporary cocktails, all with a story to share.
16 – 18 St. James’s Place, London, SW1A 1NJ 020 7493 0111 www.thestaffordlondon.com