36 St James's Place,
0872 148 2238
Note: Calls cost 10p per min plus network extras.
The ViewLondon Review
Rumoured to be the bar that inspired James Bond’s most iconic line ‘shaken not stirred’, Dukes Bar is widely considered to be one of the best cocktail bars in the world. Well, if it’s good enough for 007…
Dukes Hotel isn’t your typical fancy marble-clad display of ostentation. For a start, it’s hidden from view down a quiet side street so you have to hunt it out. This hotel is British heritage through and through. The kind of place where your Alexander McQueen clobber would feel right at home. From the huge Union Jack that flies proudly at the front of the building to the boutique English countryside feel to the decor within, it’s very laid back albeit with a definite luxury feel. The bar itself is small with lots of comfortable lounging armchairs huddled around little dark wooden tables. The walls are a muted cream colour and the chairs and curtains are various shades of inoffensive blue, which could have been dull if it weren’t for the old paintings and portraits that cover the walls, giving a definite country estate look to the space.
Tourists flock to Dukes Bar to see the place where Ian Fleming drank whilst imagining James Bond’s latest adventures. As such, it can get quite busy as there’s not a great deal of space. Still, this is a refined bar and it doesn’t become noisy or full of the flashes of cameras. Instead, the home-from-home decor somehow encourages you to relax, sip a martini and just… breathe. It’s a nice escape from the manic streets of London. And the service? Absolutely pitch perfect. From the dinner jackets the bar and waiting staff wear to their unending desire to ensure you have a great drinking experience with them, it is a real lesson in customer service.
It has to be done. If you come to Dukes Bar then you have to order a martini (you can ask for it shaken not stirred but the staff will have heard that joke 15,000 times already). The real plus of this bar is they wheel a little cocktail trolley to your table and make it in front of you – pure theatre. If you opt for their signature Dukes vodka martini it is mixed using Potocki vodka, extra dry vermouth, fresh lemon peel and lemon oil. They also make a point of keeping the vodka ultra-chilled so they don’t use any ice, stopping the martini from becoming diluted. And yes, it is the best martini in London. Alternatively, you can opt for their other classic – Ian Fleming’s classic Vesper, comprising Crown Jewel gin, Potocki vodka, angostura bitters and Lillet. This too is served ice-cold, packs a massive kick and has a clarity to the taste that is just incredible. If you prefer a more modern drink then the wildflower martini is made using two hot red chillis to really pep up your drink. Sure, they cost £15-£18 each (more if you request premium spirits) but you will only realistically be able to sip on one or two if you don’t want to collapse into an alcohol-induced coma.
The Last Word
Dukes Bar is the epitome of British style, so it’s only right that it should have been the inspiration behind one of our biggest literary – and on screen – heroes.
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