Online Editor, Simon Wittenberg, unwinds at the bar of the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square in Mayfair on a warm summer’s evening.
We previously visited this establishment a couple of years ago for Low Tea, and were suitably impressed. Since then, the offering has evolved, which therefore called for us to return to one of London’s hidden gems. Inspired by the roaring 1920s, the Luggage Room is full of character and its cocktail menu has been cleverly designed as a series of eras to take guests on a journey from the origins of civilised society through to the present day.
We were advised to sit at the bar itself in full view of the theatrical display and well-honed talents of Bar Manager, Kalem McLoughlin, and it definitely proved the place to be. From Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, Kalem is a knowledgeable mixologist who is no stranger to hotel bars, having previously worked at the five-star Merchant Hotel Belfast, amongst other venues.
After perusing the huge range of cocktails on offer, and with a difficult decision to make, I settled on “Penicillin” (£14) from the last chapter (the 1980s to the present day). It was enthusiastically concocted from Chivas Regal’s 12-year-old scotch, Laphroaig Quarter Cask whisky, honey, lemon juice and a dose of fresh ginger.
This is a drink that was devised by the Australian bartender Sam Ross in 2005, and is now a classic which is served across the globe in various guises. Presented with a large chunk of ice carved straight from the ice block that glistened beneath the various bottles on display, The Luggage Room’s Kalem certainly did it justice and was just what the doctor ordered, curing all woes from the day.
My other half went for the “Pineapple Julep” (£15.50) which harks back to the period of 1920 to 1933 (the “Temperance Heist”). Devised by Jerry Thomas in the 1930s, it combines Bathtub Old Tom gin, Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne, maraschino (a liqueur that uses Marasca cherries) orange, raspberry and pineapple. Served in a chilled metal goblet and topped with crushed ice, plus a garnish of fresh raspberries, pineapple and mint leaves, it was a true joy for the senses.
After swiftly polishing off our first round of cocktails, and with a healthy dose of large green olives and Bombay mix kindly provided by our hosts, we contemplated our next move. Completely away from what was on the menu, we set Kalem a couple of challenges.
The first was to make a virgin Piña colada-inspired concoction, and the second was to put together something fruity and non-alcoholic. The results from his creative thinking were impressive. Mine was made out of milk, pineapple juice, lime and a dash of cream, whilst for my guest, he conjured up a rose pink-coloured beverage from fruit juices and a hint of caramel. They were both delicious and we will definitely be laying down the gauntlet again during future visits.
For those who are feeling a little more peckish, and are after a gastronomic offering which is a little more substantial than just nibbles, visitors have a choice of three sharing platters. These are namely smoked beef and venison with gooseberry chutney (£22), a selection of four British cheeses with bread, crackers and butter (£25), and a trio of quail eggs with salad, black pudding and chorizo, priced at £22.
If you are ever in Mayfair and are looking for a bar that is discrete and tucked away, and which serves an excellent array of cocktails, then it’s definitely worth knocking on the door, as the Luggage Room will not disappoint.
The Luggage Room – Where and How?
The Luggage Room is located at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, Mayfair, London W1K 6JP. To make a reservation, visit http://luggageroom.co.uk.