Gin and Jazz at The Arch Bar, Park Lane
You know you’re somewhere special when your stunningly presented cocktails in thick pristine glasses are placed on starched white linen coasters. The Arch Bar at the Intercontinental Hotel is situated in the space of the hotel’s old Lobby Lounge and has enjoyed a 1920’s influenced face lift with a glass brushed bar and a modernist twist that takes you back to the glamour of bygone era. Once a month, the bar welcomes bands with names like The Shirt Tail Stompers and Viper’s Dream, hosting a celebrated jazz night, which captures the balance of suave sophistication with a tinge of themed entertainment. The bar enjoys the ultimate in hotel revelry with immaculate table service and obligatory bar snacks, whilst the syncopated notes of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong transport you to a smokey bar in a dimly lit New Orleans quarter.
The cocktail list tilts towards a preference for gins, with over 24 varieties to choose from and extensive botanical combinations. Time and creativity have been poured into the Gin and Jazz list so start with a treat from the Nostalgic selection and order yourself a ‘Cloudy Moonshine’ or ‘Bootlegger’. Take your time to read the eloquent descriptions of drinks, based on the history of Gin as a spirit with specialities such as ‘Poor Man’s Punch’ or the ‘Commodore’. There really is no place for wine, beer or champagne here so boys, join your girl with a cocktail and if you feel like a pansy, find one with a name that makes you feel macho and contains enough gin to sink a battleship. The bar snacks are good here (vegetable chips, corn snacks, olives) and are replenished readily by watchful staff. Cocktails are strong however and if you need something more substantial to soak them up, opt for one of the combination Sharing Platters with bite-sized chorizo, sashimi or empanadas.
Oh the joys of hotel bars. From the moment you are welcomed at the door to the hotel (which slides open in that effortless graceful way only hotel foyers seem to do) service is seamless and you can walk through to the bar where you check in with the maitre d (do book in advance either online or on the phone). A flapper dressed dancer will guide you to your table before a knowledgable waitress appears with a menu. When booking, request a café style table close to the stage as the taller armchair style seats are too far away to allow touching and you end up facing each other rather formally. Find out what time the band begin and arrive half an hour before – this way you can lap up the setting and indulge in that theatre like pre performance excitement to break any ice. The romance and feel good factor of the music will evoke not only foot tapping but definite hand holding potential with an occasional loving gaze at the other as the dreaminess of the evening washes over you both. There is only one way to leave this place, you must request a doorman to hail you both a cab and let it sweep up to the entrance. Getting on a bus will completely burst the bubble.
The bill at the end has the potential to shock. Stay vaguely aware of your ordering as it’s easy to agree to another then another when distracted by the music.
5 – this is the ultimate dating spot and you’ll want to continue the night together upon leaving.