The Polo Bar at the Westbury Hotel has hit upon an amazing idea. When you order a cocktail, you get two glasses. One full-sized drink for you, and one matching tiddly tipple for your drinking companion.
A boon to the germphobic and aggressive non-sharers, it also eliminates that low-level dismay that comes with watching your bartender throw your excess cocktail down the sink after pouring it. The idea also helps to ease the sticker shock that inevitably comes with an £18.50 cocktail. £18.50! We balked at our menus, and I was reminded of Jay, who was once charged nearly fifteen quid for a G&T at the Ham Yard Hotel, and vowed never to return. The extra drink – such a novelty! So adorable! – made the price much more palatable. Especially as, yes, we were in Mayfair, and somebody’s got to pay for that slick art deco interior. (Designed with Fendi fittings and Swarovski crystals, apparently.)
We’d barely sat down before triptych of luxe salty snacks were brought forth – caramelised nuts, wafer-thin crispbread and gleaming, glassy olives. Mike – continuing his one-man mission to order London’s girliest cocktails – chose the Divine (£18.50), a thick Beluga vodka-based drink with a near-creamy consistency and a tartness that made my lips pucker and my teeth itch – in a good way! If you have a taste for tang, you’ll find it perfectly balanced; its passion fruit and Galliano offset by lime juice and homemade saffron syrup. Tempted by the lure of Tanqueray gin (because it is my favourite) and the promise of a drink with gold flecks in it (because I am a child), I began with the Mayfair Gold (£18.50) – gin shaken with fragrant, perfume-like elderflower and lychee, and topped with champagne. They should turn the stuff into a body spritz.
The Masterful (£18.50) was an apricot and lavender-infused twist on a gin sour, and undeniably excellent, if not a little wasteful of the mixologists’ skill. Much better to tryone of the weirder items, like the Yuzu Chuhai (£15.50), which combined gin and mandarin liqueur with fresh yuzu juice, chocolate bitters and vanilla sugar.
And there are nibbles, if you can call a platter of nine gigantic panko breaded prawn lollipops a nibble, so there’s no need to decamp to one of Mayfair’s restaurants if you get peckish. (Though, if you do want more of a sit-down meal, Hakkasan, Momo and Bob Bob Ricard are all close by and fabulous. You may be tempted by nearby Sketch but its hugely overpriced, in my opinion. If you spent all your money on cocktails, head to Flat Iron across Regent Street instead for a £10 steak.)
Continuing the theme of fancy finger food, there are also tiny salmon cones with crème fraîche, a pail filled with breaded cod, whitebait, squid and tiger prawn, served with a rich, garlicky aioli sauce (‘Frito Misto’ – £19.00) and – my favourite – well-packed Duck Spring Rolls (£15.00) with plum sauce.
We finished up with a couple more cocktails – we discovered, disappointingly, that not every drink comes with a little brother, so check before you order – and some miniature ice cream cones.
For most people, the Polo Bar isn’t an everyday kind of place. The decor, the service and the drinks are all very luxurious – and are priced accordingly – but it’s a great place to spoil someone who can appreciate a well-mixed drink.
The Polo Bar at the Westbury Hotel, 37 Conduit St, London, W1S 2YF
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.