Tucked away in St James Place is the legendary Dukes Hotel home to the perhaps even more legendary Dukes Bar. This space is arguably the home of the best Martini in the world — it’s become famous for them. Once inside you’ll see why it’s about so much more than the Martini, it’s about heritage and legacy. All of the staff are attentive, look smart in their crisp white jackets and create a relaxed and enjoyable experience for you and your guests. The simplicity is the real magic here and you’ll be won over by the history and a sort of five-star quaintness that no other bar comes close to capturing.
Everything belongs exactly where it is and when you hear the Martini trolley rattle toward your table, you know that Martinis will never taste quite the same again. All of the gins are kept in a freezer to avoid any dilution and thus there is a strict house rule of no more than three per customer. Salvatore Calabrese was the man originally responsible for this tradition that has been passed down from one legendary bar manager to the next. Today the charming Alessandro Palazzi is the man that runs the show and nobody does it better.
Drinks wise at Dukes Bar, the Martini is king and should certainly be tried. Local producers Sacred make the house vermouth exclusively for them but the list of frozen gins and vodkas is huge so it’s pretty much a win-win affair. Otherwise we think it’s a great idea to try any of the classic cocktails such as a Negroni or Manhattan. Dukes is a historical hotel bar that remains as classical and iconic as the drink that has made it famed throughout the world.
Best Bars tip: It’s just as much of an occasion as it is an experience, so there is a smart dress code — completely understandable. For the time you’re here you feel part of this “tradition” we keep mentioning and this, after all, is what a truly great bar should be about.
— Matthew Bray-Heather