West End Legend ‘The American Bar’ at The Stafford London Toasts a Rich History and a Special British-American Bond
Toronto, ON, June 24, 2015 – In the heart of St James’s sits a London legend, The American Bar, at The Stafford London, brimming with character, charm and a unique history. During the 1930s, it was the fashion for most West End hotels to rename their bars ‘The American Bar’ in order to attract the business of the increasing numbers of North American visitors. The Stafford London is one of only two bars in London that retained the name.
During WW2, The Stafford London served as a club for American and Canadian officers until 1945. With American friends came American drinks for which the intimate bar is now offering famous classics such as Manhattans, Sidecars and Martinis in addition to American Whiskey. A visit to The American Bar is to tour a gallery. The personal gifts that decorate The American Bar have been donated mostly by North American guests over the years and include trophies, flags and other mementos from across the Atlantic. Today, every available wall and surface is delightfully crammed with an intriguing collection of artefacts knick-knacks and signed celebrity photographs. The ceiling is a canopy of club ties, sports collectibles and baseball caps.
Just to the left of the bar, guests will find a very special, always-reserved bar stool for Nancy Wake, leading figure in the French Resistance and highly decorated war hero, whose honours include the U.S. Medal of Freedom. Nancy, (pictured below in “Nancy’s Corner” at The American Bar) resided at The Stafford London for two years and would enjoy a daily gin and tonic. One of the most popular cocktails at The American Bar, the ‘White Mouse’ is dedicated to Nancy who was coined the ‘White Mouse’ by the Nazis who could corner, but never catch her. The bespoke cocktail is made with Saffron Gin, shaken together with lemon juice and honey, and topped off with Champagne. The cocktail is priced £18.00.
Bar manager, Benoit ‘Ben’ Provost, who joined The Stafford London in 1993, created the cocktail in 2011, the year of Nancy’s passing at 98 years old. Ben met Nancy on countless occasions and has many stories about “Nancy’s Corner” and her time at The Stafford which he delights in sharing.
So captivated by the colourful collection in the American Bar, long-term The Stafford London guest, Peggy Clare was inspired to write a book about the bar and its memorabilia having stayed at the hotel on numerous occasions over a 30-year period. ‘Ties That Bind, A Biography of a Bar’ by Peggy Clare was published in 1990.
About The American Bar:
The American Bar at The Stafford is an institution in its own right. This lively gathering spot has, over the years, developed into a complete history of the hotel itself, decorated with thousands of items of customer-donated memorabilia from around the globe. During the 1930s most West End hotels in London renamed their bar “The American Bar” in an attempt to attract the business of the increasing numbers of North American visitors. These intrepid travelers brought with them such exotic drinks such as Manhattans, Sidecars and Martinis, which the bar is famous for. Most hotels have renamed their bars yet The Stafford remains one of only two in London that have kept the name.
The American Bar’s collection of memorabilia was started when an American guest gave Charles Guano – the hotel’s late, beloved Head Barman of 42 years – a small wooden carving of an American eagle. Shortly after, a Canadian guest gave him a small model of an Eskimo. Then an Australian presented a model of a kangaroo, and so the collection grew and grew. Today, every available wall and surface is crammed with an intriguing collection of artefacts, knick-knacks and signed celebrity photographs. Even the ceiling is hung with a colourful collection of club ties, sporting mementoes and baseball caps.
About The Stafford London:
The Stafford London is independently owned and managed, and offers three contrasting styles of rooms and suites. The Main House, a former private residence, comprises 67 rooms and suites which combine Victorian grandeur with modern comfort. In contrast the 26 Mews Suites and Penthouse offer contemporary interiors within the tranquil courtyard of the Main House, while the adjacent Carriage House contains 12 traditional rooms and suites in the former 18th-century royal stables.
The Lyttelton Restaurant and private dining rooms provide elegant cuisine and fine wines, and menus from executive chef Carlos Martinez are classic and modern with a Mediterranean flavour. The renowned American Bar with its legendary cocktails and unique outdoor courtyard, Blue Ball Yard, is one of London’s most notable cocktail establishments. Underneath the courtyard, the 380-year-old vaulted wine cellar is an ideal central London location for events and celebrations.
The Stafford London is located in the heart of the St James’s regeneration district with the finest shopping in Jermyn Street just feet away. It also has many of London’s biggest attractions on its doorstep, including art galleries, theatres, and the Royal Palaces and Parks.