K Bar at The Kensington
Bar in London
Hotel Cocktail Bar
David Harfield sets sail in style with The Kensington Hotel’s marvellous K Bar.
With the winter winds still whipping along London’s streets in March, stepping off Queen’s Gate and into The Kensington is like stowing away on the Titanic; this feeling is increased tenfold when I walk into the K Bar, the hotel’s palatial cocktail bar. Suppressing the urge to announce myself as, “King of the world!”, I merely give my name and make my way to meet my friend at our reserved table. All aboard and we’re off!
Although the nautical theme is subtle, the wood panelling, dripping chandeliers and shiny tables all scream opulence; I might be projecting a mixture of Jack and Rose fantasies due to the frostbite that I developed on the walk from the tube, but it does feel as if I’ve won a ticket to the upper deck in a poker game...and now it’s time to cash it in.
The friendly waiters talk us through the menu and offer advice on their personal favourites; the cocktails are along the twists-on-or-just-straight-up classics route and we go for a Final Letter and a Spiced Honey Mule. An esoteric blend of obscure rockabilly tunes and jazz standards serve as a soundtrack that creates a relaxed ambience and we forget all about the Arctic conditions outside (or any impending icebergs).
The first round of drinks arrive and both are of a pale colour with pretty garnishes; the Final Letter is a smooth concoction of No. 3 gin, fresh lime and the always-excellent St Germain elderflower liqueur with a dash of green chartreuse offering a tangy bite in the finish. The Spiced Honey Mule came with a warning as to its piquancy and it certainly lives up to its reputation, the fiery blend of red chilli, Maker’s Mark and ginger beer only slightly tempered by the addition of honey.
Appetites rumbling, we order a selection of bar snacks and a couple more cocktails while checking out the classic books that line the shelves; from Emerson to Dickens, there’s enough decent literature here to engage the most discerning reader for a winter of warm afternoons. More sustenance arrives and our table is soon festooned with a terracotta bowl of tangy wild boar sausages and a honey mustard dip, crispy flatbread and a plate of red pepper hummus and a darling mini-burger stuffed with salt beef and slathered in mustard. It’s simple bar food with a posh twist yet the prices aren’t prohibitive and would serve as the perfect snacks for a friendly business meeting or a special date that you want to impress.
To wash it down, I go for a Blood & Sand: a ballsy mix of Macallan Gold, red vermouth, cherry liqueur and just a dash of orange juice that lightens the deep red colour just a touch and elevates the taste into a palatable tipple that could get you pretty tipsy in no time.
Masculinity in check, my friend has gone for a Rose Petal, which arrives in a flute topped with a dainty raspberry garnish and is also light red (not, repeat not pink), combining Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut, Cointreau, lemon juice and rose syrup. If there was ever any debate as to who’s Leo and who’s Kate on this particular jaunt, I feel that this drink settles it.
Bellies full and heads sparkling, we thank the bar team and head back ashore, travelling from the gilded splendour of the K Bar into a local boozer, reminiscing about the time that we mixed with high society. Well, if they ever need anyone to come back and polish the brass, they know who to call. They can just pay me in cocktails.
David Harfield is a freelance food and travel writer and the director of the social media solutions company PepperStorm Media
Photographs courtesy of The Kensington
|Reviewer's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Cost per head||High|
|Dress Code||Smart Casual|
|Clientele||Businesspeople, friends , hotel guests and dates|
Elegant décor and friendly staff.
Cocktails start from £10, Champagne Cocktails from £12.50, Liqueurs from £7.50. Wine by the glass from £5.50, draft beer from £3.50. Bar Bites: 3 for £14 or from £4.50 each. You may also like to check out the hotel’s Afternoon Tea for £35 per person.
Last updated on 05-04-2016