The Savoy Hotel and the Dry Martini Cocktail

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock.

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar

Cafe Royal and The Bronx Cocktail

The Dorchester and the Manhattan

Count Peter

Our cars returned us to the Savoy Hotel, where under the watchful gaze of Count Peter of Savoy, we are escorted to a room near the back of the hotel.

Dry Martini Setup

Huh, seems to be a portrait of Sir Winston Churchill, behind all that Gin. And a statue of him in the corner giving the famous V for Victory hand sign. Wonder what that is about? Lots of famous people and politicians at the Savoy, I suppose.

Maximilian Warner from Plymouth starts, thanking us for coming, what a momentous and meaningful experience it has been for him, highlight of his career. He also explains that this long time in coming party to celebrate the legacy of Plymouth Gin and Harry Craddock, was a going away party for him of sorts, he will be leaving the Plymouth company for parts unknown. He then hands the “Mic” over to Erik Lorincz, to say some words, and make the final cocktail of the day, The Dry Martini. Erik says something cute like, “My hands are shaking too much in this esteemed company, I’d like to invite someone up to help me make this cocktail. Someone whose work has done a lot to popularize both the Savoy Cocktail Book and Harry Craddock’s legacy, Erik Ellestad.” Gulp.

Two Eriks at Savoy

(Photo by Jared Brown

OK, now my hands are shaking far more than Erik Lorincz’! A few questions as we make the cocktail, about the Savoy Cocktail Book Project. I manage to stammer out a couple semi coherent answers, didn’t know I’d be doing any public speaking, and somehow we both, shaking hands and all, manage to get the final cocktail, The Dry Martini, into the cocktail shaker time capsule for posterity.

Pouring Plymouth for Martinis

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Public speaking over, and lo, there was much rejoicing, Martinis, and Gin and Tonics.

How Many Savoy Head Bartenders to Pour a Martini

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Just how many Savoy Head Bartenders does it take to make a Martini?

Speaking of Head Bartenders, last year Angus Winchester blew through town promoting Tanqueray Gin, and brought with him a copy of the Savoy Cocktail Book he’d had Erik Lorincz and Peter Dorelli sign. I’d brought it along this day, and surreptitiously had the other Savoy Bartenders sign my copy.

Angus Savoy Cocktail Book

Unfortunately, Joe Gilmore’s illness made it impossible for me to get his signature.

Savoy Head Bartender Signatures

Or did it…

Savoy Cocktail Book

As part of the gift pack, they gave us a new edition of the Savoy Cocktail Book, with an introduction from Erik Lorincz and modern cocktails from the Savoy Bar, but they also had all of the living Savoy Head Bartenders Sign the copies, including Joe Gilmore.

Yes, I suppose I am a Savoy Nerd to get excited about this. Is that a bad thing?

Gift Bags

(Photo by Jared Brown)

I suppose I should mention, at this point, that one of the features of the tour, was the launch of the new Plymouth bottle in England. I can say without reservations that the people at Plymouth, Beefeater, and apparently, Chivas, along with their parent company Pernod Ricard, have been great supporters of the Savoy Project. I’ve met a lot of good people who work for them, and especially thank Trevor Easter for helping out get me across the pond for this day of celebration.

Gift Box

And the mysterious blue box which accompanied our gift bag, was also very cool.

5 Cocktails

Included a card with the 5 cocktails we had enjoyed during the course of the day and some wrapped items.

Contents

A goblet style glass, a small decorative cocktail shaker, and a bottle of Plymouth Gin in the new bottle.

Glass, Shaker, Gin

“Here’s to Harry Craddock ‘Bartender Legend’, Friday 25 January, 2013.”

To Harry

Finally, I will add a sixth cocktail to the 5, the Corpse Reviver (No 4)…

Corpse Reviver No 2

Corpse Reviver (No 4)

3/4 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz Kina l’Avion d’Or (I’ve been curious how the Kina from Tempus Fugit would work in a Corpse Reviver variation, and I had some in the house. Pretty tasty. I was afraid it would totally dominate, but it behaves itself here and works kind of nicely with the Cointreau.)
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
dash Absinthe

Shake and strain into a celebratory goblet.

…and raise a glass to Harry Craddock, the Savoy Hotel, and Plymouth Gin.

Cheers!

Dorchester and the Manhattan

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock.

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar

Cafe Royal and The Bronx Cocktail

We arrived at the Dorchester Hotel, where we were escorted, of course, to The Bar.

“The delights of cocktail hour have returned to London with The Bar at The Dorchester. Established as one of the places in the capital to see and be seen, The Bar at The Dorchester is renowned as much for its rich, opulent interior as for its menu of new and classic cocktails, devised by world-renowned expert alchemist Giuliano Morandin and his team, whose awards are too many to list.

“A rich palette of black, browns and aubergine combine with luxurious lacquered mahogany, mirrored glass, velvet and dramatic red glass-spears, to create the perfect night-time atmosphere. The long, sexy, curved bar offers one of the finest selections of spirits, champagnes and wines in London with a menu to match.”

Gotta love press releases and advertising copy.

Dorchester Bar

Glassware was already chilling, waiting to be filled with Manhattans.

I just like the sequence of expressions on Anistatia, the barman, and Peter Dorelli’s faces in these next three photos.

Peter and Anistatia One

Peter and Anistatia Two

Peter and Anistatia Three

Ahem, moving along…

Pouring Manhattans at Dorchester

(Photo by Jared Brown)

The interesting thing about Harry’s tenure at the Dorchester, is that for a long time neither the hotel nor Jared and Anistatia could find any actual evidence, in print or otherwise, of Harry’s time there.

From Wikipedia:

“The Dorchester Hotel was created by Malcolm McAlpine, a partner in the building company Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons and the managing director of Gordon Hotels Ltd, Sir Frances Towle, who shared a vision of creating the ‘perfect hotel’: ultramodern and ultra-efficient, with all the conveniences modern technology could supply. So, in 1929 their two companies jointly bought the Dorchester House, a large 19th-century building, and quickly had it demolished. Sir Owen Williams & William Curtis Green were commissioned to design the new hotel, using reinforced concrete to allow the creation of large internal spaces without support pillars.. The construction was carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine, with the upper eight floors erected in just 10 weeks, supported on a massive three feet thick reinforced concrete deck that forms the roof of the first floor.

“During the Second World War, the strength of its construction gave the hotel the reputation of being one of London’s safest buildings. Cabinet Ministers, such as Lord Halifax and Duff Cooper, stayed there during this time, as did Winston Churchill, who had a wall built to add privacy to his balcony, which still exists. General Dwight D. Eisenhower took a suite on the first floor (now the Eisenhower Suite) in 1942 after previously having stayed at Claridge’s. Diners at the Dorchester from cultural circles during this period included Cyril Connolly, T. S. Eliot, Harold Nicolson, and Edith Sitwell.”

If Harry was at the Dorchester, he was serving quite the clientele!

Dorchester Letter Explained

(Photo by Jared Brown)

However, a letter recently came to light. Giuliano Morandin, manager of the Dorchester bar, explained he had a guest come in who said he had a letter from Harry Craddock which had been addressed to his father. Apparently, the guest’s father was something of a regular, and Harry felt it necessary to send him a letter, reassuring the father that he was not retiring, and he would be able to find him behind the bar at the Dorchester, “every day”. Ah, regulars.

Harry retired from the Dorchester in April of 1947, at age 74. He would help open one more bar, the bar at Brown’s Hotel, in 1951, before completely retiring from bartending.

Magic Shaker and Manhattan

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Salim Khoury and Giuliano Morandin placed the sample of the Manhattan Cocktail into the shaker time capsule.

Dorchester Group Shot

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Our group gathers for one last shot, in front of the Dorchester.

Once more, to the cabs, and back, I believe, to the Savoy Hotel, for the final cocktail.

Into the cars once more!

Cafe Royal and the Bronx

Continuing the writeup of the day I spent in London celebrating the life and legacy of Harry Craddock.

Previous Posts:

Gunnersbury Tube Station

Robert Burns, The Savoy Hotel, and the White Lady

Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and the Sidecar

Cars

Our cars deposited us outside the
Cafe Royal Hotel and we were escorted through the very modern new bar and restaurant, where I believe I spotted Rowan Atkinson, to the recently remodeled, and at that time not yet quite open, The Grill Room at the Cafe Royal.

“The iconic Grill Room (originally established in 1865) has been exquisitely restored to its original Louis XVI detailing and is now the place to enjoy Champagne, cocktails and a light menu.

“Nestled between the elegance of Mayfair and the creativity of Soho, the Grill Room is where great minds came together to change the world. It is in this very room that Oscar Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas, Aubrey Beardsley debated with Whistler, David Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust and Mick Jagger, the Beatles and Elizabeth Taylor danced the night away.

“The Grill Room is open from 6pm Monday to Saturday and has a regular programme of entertainment throughout the week.

“Reservations are required after 9.00pm. Please send details of your request to grillroom@hotelcaferoyal.com

“We will do our best to accommodate your request and will respond within 24 hours.

“Please note, admittance will always be at the discretion of the host.
“Dress code: celebrative and sophisticated.”

Well, so far this day had proved itself both “Celebrative” and “Sophisticated”, hopefully they will let a bunch of slightly tipsy bartenders, booze industry insiders, and journalists into this rather posh establishment! I mean, if Mr Bean can get in…

Dorelli Pours Bronx

(Photo by Jared Brown)

It was Peter Dorelli’s turn to make a drink for the cocktail shaker time capsule, in this case, the Bronx Cocktail. Some banter was exchanged regarding Italian Bartenders and their prominence in the English Bar Trade, not to mention how odd it was that they managed to maintain the strength of their Italian accent, even after years, nay decades, of living in England. I’m sure it has nothing to do with tips and charming the ladies.

Anistatia Speaks

(Photo by Jared Brown)

One thing that was most interesting about this trip, was to catch some glimpse of Harry Craddock, the man. There is so little of Craddock’s personality in the Savoy Cocktail Book, just a couple quotes and a picture, that he has always been something of a cipher to me. I’ve also not spent much time researching him, much more time on tracking down the origins of the recipes he compiled in the Savoy Cocktail Book.

This, I suppose, is the wrong way to go about it, something Anistatia Miller and Jared Brown have gone a long way to rectify in their book, “The Deans of Drink: The Amazing Lives & Turbulent Times of Harry Johnson & Harry Craddock as Seen in a New Light.” If you can’t tell, I am leaning heavily on the text of their book for some of these articles, but there is much, much more detail in the book itself.

“Being a narration of the Golden Eras of American & British cocktails as told through the careers & persona lives, with sundry historical notes & observations as well as cameos of other who made their mark, most notably Willy Schmidt, Ada Coleman, Paul Henkel Jr, James B Regan, Ruth Burgess, & William J Tarling; with rare photos & drawings; plus relevant walking tours of New York & London. Recipes herein are not only of historic import, the reader will find formulas created by leading bartenders of today who are influenced by these masters.”

Whew!

So, yes, Mr Tarling was the head honcho here at the Cafe Royal and the president of the United Kingdom Bartender’s Guild. Tarling’s book, “The Cafe Royal Cocktail Book” is one of the gems of that gilded age of cocktails. The Cafe Royal was the place where American spirits, even native American spirits like Tequila, came together with European liqueurs and aperitifs in astounding ways that reflected the glamor and decadence of pre-war England.

Sidecar Cocktails

(Photo by Jared Brown)

We enjoy our Bronx Cocktails, snap some more photos, and off we go, back into the cars to head to another unknown destination.

Taxis at Cafe Royal

(Photo by Jared Brown)

Gunnersbury Tube Station

“We hope you have a pleasant trip across the pond and are looking forward to a unique and fun-filled day touring London landmarks in the life of Harry Craddock.”

“Your Journey officially kicks off on Friday, January 25th, when you will meet the team at Gunnersbury Station at 9:00 a.m., at which time you will depart for the first stop of the tour. Please note that the specific destinations of the day will be kept a surprise to all participants so we will only be allowed to unveil the start and finish points at this time.”

“Throughout the tour, we encourage you to engage the various hosts from Pernod Ricard USA and Chivas Brothers, as well as our special guest hosts, for insights into the story of Harry Craddock and the Savoy Cocktail Book, as well as the unparalleled history of Plymouth Gin.”

“‘From Slings to Smashes, Fizzes to Flips,’ we hope you enjoy your gin-inspired tour in memory of Harry Craddock.”

“Cheers!”

…and that was all I knew as I arrived at Gunnersbury Tube Station, January 25, 2013.

Myself and a couple bartenders, along with Camper English, arrived at about the same time and we were shepherded down the street and into a vintage London Black Cab, in this case Geoffrey Canilao and Stuart McCluskey.

Getting into the Cars

They even included Plymouth Gin fleece blankets, a good thing on this chilly winter day.

Plymouth Blankets

We grabbed some coffee and pastries, and as we waited for everyone to show up, it became apparent this would be a rather large group.

Gathering the Troops

Ah, Pook is HERE. I’ve always wondered…

Ah, Pook is Here

But, that isn’t the grave we are looking for…

Dorelli and Miller

Maximilian Warner gets the game going, with a welcome from Plymouth Gin and a summary of the day. Also on the podium are Nigel Barden and Anistatia Miller.

After Max’s introduction, Anistatia gets to the good stuff. In the first place, this IS Harry Craddock’s grave. Everyone had thought, up until very recently, that Harry had been cremated. However, calls to various cemeteries turned up this grave and date of death which matched Harry’s.

21 January 1963 and 24 January 2013; those are awfully close… Yes, this is the 50th anniversary of Harry’s Burial here at the Gunnersbury Cemetery.

It is, however, a shared grave. In his later years, Harry was not well, and did not seek the public light. Embarrassed a bit to end up on national assistance, this is his final resting place.

Harry's Grave

Our second revelation came regarding Harry’s national origin. He claimed to have been the last “American” Bartender to make a drink before prohibition took effect, but it turned out he was as American as John Lennon or Craig Ferguson.

He was born in Burleigh, Minchinghampton in England’s Cotswold’s on August 29th, 1875. The son of a Tailor and a Knitter, his first career was as a clerk. As with many people of that time, the US had its draw, and he took the trip the USA in spring of 1897. He bounced around the country a bit until he ended up in the Hotel trade in Cleveland, Ohio. First a waiter, he soon moved to bartender. With the portability of that trade, he relocated to Chicago, Illinois and landed a job at the Palmer House.

Erik L Pours Cocktail

Above, Erik Lorincz, the current head bartender at the Savoy Hotel, pours a drink for Harry.

Savoy Bartender Toast

Four of the living head Savoy Hotel Barmen, Victor Gower, Peter Dorelli, Salim Khoury, Erik Lorincz, and Anistatia Miller, raise a Lillet Cocktail, one of his favorites, to Harry’s memory.

At HarrysGrave

I’ve stolen this image from Max/Plymouth, as our whole group raises a glasses of Lillet Cocktails, to Harry.

Back in the cars

And with that, we pile back into the cabs and head to our next mystery destination!

A Little Hanky Panky

Well, clearly the first order of business on this trip should be to hie myself to the Savoy Hotel and enjoy a Hanky Panky!

Savoy Hotel Facade, night

Nice chat with personable Savoy Barman, Christian, originally from Northern Italy.

Christian Garnishes

He garnishes the Hanky Panky with a wide swath of Orange!

Enjoying Hankyp

Wonderful, to experience and dedication he takes to the craft, a wonderful Japanese style shake, hand cracked perfectly clear ice for stirred cocktails.

Tequila Drink

For the second drink, he chose to make us a drink he had made for an event matching Tequila with Japanese Food. Beautifully refreshing and light, it contained Matcha Green Tea, Citrus, and Tequila.

Pints at The Harp

Of course, the second priority must be pints of Real Ale! The Harp has a great selection of well kept cask ale, recommended if you are in the neighborhood.

London’s Calling

As you may recall, there was some chance I might go to London for a celebration of the life and legacy of legendary barman Harry Craddock.

With the help of many friends, especially including Trevor Easter, H. Joseph Ehrman, Brian MacGregor, Steven Liles, Jared Brown, Anistatia Miller, Pernod Ricard, and the San Francisco chapter of the United States Bartender’s Guild, I will be able to attend that function.

I promise to represent our community with as much style, grace, and honor as possible.

I will also take as many notes as I can muster and lots of pictures.

Thanks again to all of you, it is truly humbling to find so many good people wishing you well and supporting your dreams.