Hotel bars are the fast track to opulence.
When your wallet says no to spending hundreds of dollars on a bed for the night, the price of an Old-Fashioned will let you sail past the uniformed doorman, glide through a marble-clad lobby and sink into a leather armchair beside an open fire.
Budapest-based and New York-raised travel writer Alia Akkam’s new book, “Behind the Bar: 50 Cocktail Recipes from the World’s Most Iconic Hotels,” celebrates hotel bars and their signature drinks.
While Covid-related restrictions mean that we can’t jet-set like we used to, the hospitality industry is opening back up and is in need of our support.
Most major cities have at least one grande dame hotel keen to have you back through its doors, so let this selection of edited excerpts from Akkam’s book inspire you to pay a socially distanced trip to a local hotel or to make plans for future travel adventures.
Connaught Bar, London
What to drink: Mulata Daisy (rum, lime, creme de cacao liqueur, Galliano, fennel seeds)
This Mayfair institution, at which Charles de Gaulle often lodged, telegraphs a hushed country estate; its carpeted staircase with glossy wood bannisters is a highlight. Scope out the massive art collection — peppered with pieces by greats such as Louise Bourgeois and Julian Opie.
Lobby Bar at Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, St Petersburg, Russia
What to drink: Million Red Roses (vodka, grapefruit juice, honey syrup, sparkling wine)
Past the Ludwig Fontana-designed, neoclassical façade of Belmond Grand Hotel Europe, the barrage of marble and gilt carries one back to tsarist 1875, when the property opened as Grand Hotel d’Europe. Dostoevsky came around often, Tchaikovsky honeymooned here and the enigmatic monk Rasputin, from behind drawn curtains, dined with politicians and paramours alike.
KOLLÁZS, Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, Hungary
What to drink: Smoky Forest (mezcal, blood orange, pine)
A 1906 Art Nouveau masterpiece, originally built for the Gresham Life Assurance Company by Zsigmond Quittner and József Vágó, it retains gobs of Secessionist-style features, including Zsolnay ceramic tiles, Miksa Róth-made stained glass, wrought-iron railings and peacock gates.
Sazerac Bar, Roosevelt New Orleans, Louisiana
What to drink: Ramos Gin Fizz (gin, simple syrup, egg white, cream, soda water, lemon and lime juice)
Seymour Weiss, owner of the Roosevelt New Orleans hotel, was buddies with Huey P. Long,