A couple of weeks ago we had the incredible opportunity to enjoy an afternoon of indulgence, tasting refined cocktails and canapes at London’s swanky Polo Bar at the Westbury Hotel.
Set in the centre of Mayfair, London’s most exclusive fashion and shopping districts, you will find the luxurious and ultra-chic Polo Bar – known for its elegant interior, pleasant bar staff and a list of delicious cocktails that bring a little surprise with every sip.
Gary and I do not go out for drinks together very frequently. In fact, I’m much more of a social butterfly than he is. I will enjoy the occasional wine at the pub with my colleagues and more recently have been attending quite a few blogger events. But Gary tends to stay at home. So when we do get the opportunity to go out together, we make the most of it.
You will be hard pushed to find a better bar in London, especially with service as immaculate as this. If you are looking for London’s most exclusive cocktail list, you need not look any further than the Polo Bar at the Westbury Hotel. It comes as no surprise that this bar, described as a “shrine to educated drinking”, was named London’s Bar of the Year not too long ago. The exceptional array of opulent cocktails on offer at the Polo Bar, utilise nothing but the finest ingredients.
LOCATION OF THE POLO BAR
Upscale but low key, The Polo Bar at The Westbury Hotel is conveniently situated between Bond Street, Oxford Circus and Piccadilly Circus stations. It is right in the centre of the action but far enough removed from the fray to allow for decompression.
Head down busy Regent Street then turn into vibrant Conduit Street, a slightly quieter part of town.
Here the Polo Bar is located on the ground floor of the opulent Westbury London Hotel, but has its own entrance. Situated among the high end stores on New Bond Street, this bar fits right into its Mayfair surroundings and effortlessly combines pure luxury with mixology know-how.
It’s a popular haunt for the local Mayfair clientele, stopping for an after work drink. It’s also the perfect location for ladies to take a weight off their feet after a marathon shopping session along Bond Street.
Stepping through the door of the Westbury Hotel, you leave all the hustle and bustle behind and enter a rarefied atmosphere that’s perfect for romantic dates, business meetings or a long overdue catch up with a friend.
INTERIOR OF THE POLO BAR
With an elegant Art Deco inspired design, complimented by custom Fendi detailing and stunning Swarovski Crystal fittings, the Polo Bar has a very opulent feel. As you walk through the door it’s quite breath-taking how eloquently this upper class venue has been designed.
The suave and sophisticated interior is not unlike an elite gentleman’s club. The long room is decked out in dark panelled wood and low lighting. Plush deep blue velvet chairs and walnut tables are dotted throughout and a long marble topped bar stretches the length of one side of the room. The design feels masculine and well-rounded.
Made to welcome even the top-tier clientele of London, Polo Bar takes luxury to the next level and certainly will make you feel distinguished.
ATMOSPHERE AT THE POLO BAR
As soon as we stepped through the door, were greeted warmly and promptly shown to our table, nestled next to the window.
From this vantage point, we could watch the Mayfair bustle through the hanging Swarovski crystals. If you’re planning to visit the Polo Bar, make sure to reserve a table near one of the windows. It’s the perfect place to people watch and Mayfair has some interesting characters that you won’t want to miss. The Swarovski crystal screen adds just enough privacy to this central London location. You can see out, but no one can see in.
The formality and luxury of the bar feels relaxing rather than oppressive. Quietly sophisticated, civilised and certainly not the place to be rowdy (thankfully!). At least not in the early afternoon.
I am told though that the Polo Bar becomes a hive of international activity in the evening. Commonly used as a late meeting place, this bar is ideal for a drink before dinner or after work with colleagues and friends. I would certainly come here to take the edge off a tough day in the office.
The Polo Bar also offers the perfect setting for romantic rendezvous over cocktails and in the morning, the top executives of London flood into the Polo Bar to lounge and chat. Whatever mood you want to set, Polo Bar can provide the ultimate atmosphere.
Our host for the evening was the lovely Alex, an effortlessly friendly and professional gentleman. He made us feel so welcome and gave us some time to review the award winning menu.
The Bar staff were all immaculately dressed and greeted all guests as they arrived. I loved the sharpness of their outfits and the superb service they provided. The bar has table service or you can wait at the bar, the choice is up to you.
COCKTAILS AT THE POLO BAR
Choosing a cocktail here at The Polo Bar will be a hard decision to make. There is such a large variety of cocktails to choose from, and each one is so unique that might feel a little overwhelmed.
The menu is broken down into signature cocktails, martinis, Polo coolers, Champagne cocktails and ‘Old School’ – which features classic and perhaps forgotten cocktails that really should be on every cocktail list.
If you don’t fancy one of the award winning cocktails, the Polo Bar has a wide and impressive selection of Champagnes, spirits, wines and beers to choose from.
Our friendly waiter suggested that we start with two of the Polo Bar signature cocktails, each accompanied by a small flavourful dish to indulge in…
The first hand-picked cocktail our waiter brought out was the Twinkle 68 (£17). A house speciality, this concoction includes Champagne, Dictator Colombian gin infused with white tea, hibiscus and rosehip, fresh lemon juice and gold sugar.
You will first be struck by its beautiful appearance. Gold sugar sparkles as it is hit by the light and the cocktail is adorned with an edible flower.
Deliciously light and fragrant, this is certainly an elegant drink that I would order again without hesitation. Surprisingly the twinkle 68 wasn’t particularly sweet. Far more sophisticated, it was slightly sour and even bitter, much like a grapefruit and brought forward the pepper in the panko crusted prawns.
Gary was offered a Normand Julep (£15.5). This French twist on the classic julep is made of an eight year old Château de Breuil Calvados stirred with Disaronno, muddled fresh rosemary, lemon and sugar. It is definitely one of finest Juleps we ever had the pleasure of tasting. Its fruity notes are perfectly balanced with sweetness from the Disaronno and a slight bitterness from the Calvados. This cocktail is a smooth, old fashioned drink, perfect for a hot summer night.
Both drinks were really well presented with flavours that complimented each other well. We were excited about what was coming next.
TWIN COCKTAILS AT THE POLO BAR IN MAYFAIR
The Polo Bar at the Westbury Hotel has hit upon an amazing idea! I am notorious for getting food or drink envy and always want to taste my family’s and friend’s food or drink choice. This type of jealousy is a thing of the past at the Polo Bar.
In a fantastic twist, certain cocktails are served with a miniature version of themselves, so that drinking companions can taste each other’s drinks.
We both agreed that this is the way every cocktail should be served! It is a great way of trying something you wouldn’t normally choose, and might open your eyes to a few cocktails you didn’t expect to like!
A godsend to the germaphobic 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. The extra drink makes the price much more palatable.
Not every drink comes with a little brother though, so check before you order.
We were offered a second round of Cocktails, soon after the first. I was given the Polo Bar’s signature cocktail, the Mayfair Gold (£18.50). A refined and elegant cocktail containing Tanqueray gin shaken with fragrant, perfume-like lychees and elderflower and topped with a splash of Moët Brut Rosé NV.
A true show-stopper, I loved this cocktail for its edible gold. It’s not often you can say you have gold in your teeth! I even got a mini version of it!
It’s not hard to see why this gold-infused, gin-based cocktail is one of the favourites on the menu. The Mayfair Gold is just as ascetically tasteful and classy as the Polo Bar itself and what’s more, it tastes as good as it looks.
Your first sips will be of dry champagne, before you reach the delicate, smooth and sweet combination of gin, lychees and elderflower.
Both Gary and I were impressed by how perfectly balanced each unique flavour was. In fact I would return just to have this cocktail again, it’s definitely worth ordering.
Gary’s final cocktail, The Divine (£18.50), was infused with saffron. Note that saffron is worth more per ounce than gold! The cocktail also contained Beluga vodka shaken with passion fruit, lime and Galliano.
The drink was delicious. A real fruity mix, with just a hint of spice to cut through all the sweetness of the homemade saffron syrup. The creamy consistency is nicely offset by the tartness of the passion fruit and lime. If you have a taste for tang, this cocktail is the one for you!
All cocktails were excellent choices but Gary and I both agreed that the Divine one the round and was our general favourite.
CANAPES AT THE POLO BAR
As soon as we sat down in our plush velvet chairs, the waiter popped a little tray of gleaming, glassy olives, wafer-thin Sicilian crispbread and caramelised salted almonds on the mahogany table.
Our friendly waiter also recommended a couple of bar bites to accompany our cocktails. He inquired whether we had any allergies (Gary is allergic to seafood) and the hand selected the best canapes on the menu.
The food menu at the Polo Bar offers a wide choice, which includes bar nibbles, salads, signature dishes, and also slightly larger food including pulled pork sandwiches (£16) and caviar (£420).
We were pleased to see normal sized portions not artsy fartsy designer looking food consisting of a few leaves and two chips balancing on each other. So there is no need to head to one of Mayfair’s restaurants if you get peckish. Just sit down, relax and enjoy what the Polo Bar has on offer.
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.
We were expecting to try just a few little nibbles but what followed can only be described as a feast of canapés.
PANKO CRUSTED PRAWNS
Our first set of cocktails were accompanied by nine incredibly moreish lollipop king prawns coated in Panko breadcrumbs served with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. Panko is a breadcrumbs made without bread crusts, giving a crispier coating so that it doesn’t absorb as much grease when cooking.
The difference was certainly noticeable! The Panko Crusted Prawns (£22.50) were light, juicy, plump and delicious without a hint of grease on the crisp panko coating. Their crust had been expertly cooked to the perfect shade of gold. The chilli sauce was the perfect escort for the prawns. Sweet and just slightly spicy. An excellent way to start the evening.
Prawns can be rubbery and I’m usually not a fan. These however were perfect and I could have eaten a whole lot more of them.
Gary is,unfortunately, allergic to seafood, he, therefore couldn’t join me in devouring most of the canapes. Instead he was generously offered Buttermilk Chicken (£18), free range chicken bites coated in a crispy spiced crumb, grilled sweet corn and ranch dressing.
The crust on these soft chicken morsels was light and not overly greasy. The sweetcorn was perfectly roasted and subtly sweet. Finally the ranch dressing added just the right amount of acidity.
No surprise the that Gary finished his plate before he knew it.
SMOKED SALMON CONES
My favourite canapes of the evening though were the Smoked Salmon Cones. Not dissimilar in appearance to tiny ice creams, these sesame cones were filled with London smoked salmon mousse, crème fraiche, then sprinkled with Aquitaine caviar and chives.
It’s intriguing what a bit of presentation can do. These dainty morsels were some of the most photogenic canapes I have ever seen and Gary and I spent a good while admiring them before I gobbled them all up.
These smoked salmon cones were the perfect accompaniment to our cocktails, subtle enough not to overpower them yet flavourful enough that there wasn’t one remaining!
The unusual texture combination of the smooth mousse with the crunchy cones made for an interesting tasting experience. The Saltiness from the smoked salmon was nicely balanced out by the sweetness of the cone.
As expected, both food and drinks command a price in keeping with the Mayfair area and the Westbury Hotel.
There are even more extravagant options then the once we picked. You could for instance splurge on Beluga and Oscietra Caviar at £420 and £250 for 50g.
To be honest this isn’t somewhere that I would usually think of visiting but we had such a lovely evening, fantastic service and, most importantly, mouth-watering food and drink, and I wouldn’t hesitate to return. I would probably stick to one cocktail and one canape each. But the Polo Bar certainly is is a great place to come for a special treat.
WOULD I COME BACK TO THE POLO BAR?
The Polo Bar is the perfect spot for pre-dinner or pre-show drinks near the West End. I would also recommend this bar to anyone looking to impress or spoil their beloved for a special occasion. Especially if that special someone can appreciated a well-mixed drink. Alternatively, like us, you could head here just to enjoy a wonderfully relaxed evening.
The Polo Bar really is a great place to visit in London, with luxurious furnishings, an exclusive vibe and an expert team – it’s the perfect place to broaden your horizons and try something a little different.
We had a wonderful time at the Polo Bar. The décor is luxurious and decadent, the service outstanding, the canapes faultless and the cocktails out of this world.
Would I come back? I would return in a heartbeat! I am also keen to enjoy a meal at one of the Westbury Hotel’s two restaurants. Not only do they have an acclaimed sushi restaurant Tsukiji Sushi, but the jewel in their crown has to be the Michelin starred Alwyn Williams.
The Polo Bar at the Westbury is a real hidden gem of a place and I’d highly recommend it to all my friends and family.
With many thanks to The Polo Bar and its team for providing us with such a fabulous experience.
Disclaimer: I attended as a guest of The Polo Bar at the Westbury, nonetheless the opinions contained within this article are my own and were not in any way influenced by the hospitality.