Head Here If… You want an alternative to the archetypal Knightsbridge hotel bar
Harvey Nichols is synonymous with all things absolutely fabulous and for cocktail lovers, it really does come up trumps. Kit yourself out in the sharpest cocktail attire, stock up your home bar with the most exclusive spirits, learn how to mix like a pro at one of the fun and informative masterclasses and when you’re done, style it out in the Fifth Floor Bar…
First Things First
In case you didn’t know it, there’s more to Harvey Nichols than killer heels and fancy frocks. Like the wonderful Fifth Floor Bar. Poised at the top of London’s most fashionable department store it’s no coincidence that it’s a stunner in the looks department. Who wants to celebrate the purchase of the must-have men’s geometric bib shirt from Viktor & Rolf or an expertly cut Roland Mouret dress in a mediocre setting? Not that it’s only HN shoppers who find their way here, in truth most of the clientele seem to have avoided retail therapy altogether and taken the Express Lift straight up to the bar.
With its luxurious white leather banquettes and oversized fuschia and lime chaises the look and feel probably veers more to the feminine side of things but that said, its not overtly girly. In fact, if you’re counting, there’s probably more men soaking up the hospitality and sampling the drinks. Mainly though the Fifth Floor bar attracts established couples. It’s also just the right balance of chic and sexy to work well for first daters yet relaxing enough for women to either sit alone without being hit on, or meet up with friends.
As this is a champagne bar (Perrier Jouet are sponsors seeing as you ask), it’s no surprise that a fizzy-based cocktail is one of the signature drinks. The Passionate Raspberry Kisses (Absolut vodka mixed with passion fruit, raspberries and a dash of rose liqueur topped with Harvey Nichols champagne) is the suggestion Ms S goes for and she’s not at all disappointed with her choice. It comes with half a passion fruit floating on top, adding contrast and drama to the drink. It’s deliciously fruity but not too sweet with a nice ratio of spirit, fruit and crisp, dry bubbles. Perfecto.
After a little discussion with Ivan he recommends Beefeater 24 because “the citrus flavour works well with a twist”. When it arrives it looks sharp, the tall, elegant traditional glass having the air a well cut suit. But it isn’t all just about aesthetics.There’s a nice citrus aroma and the temperature is bang on – cold enough to have an edge but with the big flavours really coming to the fore. It’s full in the mouth and the finish is long and satisfyingly gentle. It could be dangerously easy to drink several of these bad boys.
Ms S is torn between the Fifth Element mojito and the Mare Flower. After a little chat with the delightful Stani and Ivan she decides on the latter (Gin Mare, thyme and hibiscus blended with lime and crushed ice. Finished with a hint of thyme and served Caipirnha-style.) And she’s soooo glad she didn’t dither as this is absolute perfection. Aside from the gorgeous presentation there’s a wonderful citrus taste bursting through, tempered with thyme resulting in a sweet and sour taste explosion all at once.
There’s plenty on the menu that Mr G would like to get acquainted with, but once again the men that know come along with some considered suggestions which lead to the Cherry Julep (Buffalo Trace Whiskey, amarena cherry, mint cherry syrup, bitters). The mint is beautifully dappled throughout the length of the tall collins glass, contrasting nicely against the golden brown of the liquid. This drink has a big taste and is perfectly balanced – the power of the whiskey working well with the mint and the sweetness of the syrup.
And To Eat?
As you’d expect, the menu is a beaut: Irish rock oysters, chorizo and shallot vinegar (£15); venison burger (£15) and if you’re feeling ultra-flush, caviar (from £90).
Look Out For
Ivan and Stani, the two most charming hosts you could possibly hope to meet. Then there are the unmissable weekly masterclasses, two hours of mucho fun and interactive cocktailmaking, followed by lunch and a glass of wine in the adjoining restaurant, we can’t recommend them highly enough.
What’s The Damage
From £10.95-£12.95 for regular cocktails, rising to £16 for champagne cocktails. There’s also a good selection of adventurous non-alcoholic drinks coming in at £7.
Ms S says:
This is one of the few bars where it feels positively natural to partake in a drink or two before cocktail hour officially strikes. Whether that’s good or not is totally irrelevant, the point is the atmosphere is so relaxing you feel comfortable at any time. And pretty much any occasion.
Mr G says:
It always makes me feel smart when I have a drink here. The elegant surroundings, the efficient service and the excellent drinks all effortlessly combine to create everything that a high end bar ought to be.
Fifth Floor Bar, Harvey Nichols, 109-125 Knightsbridge SW1X 7RJ. T: 020 7235 5000