Historic London hotel debuts ‘etiquette’ cocktail menu

21st December, 2016 by Annie Hayes

‘Etiquette-based’ menu The Golden Age of Cocktails has launched at The Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, curated by newly appointed in-house drinks historian, Rebecca Seal.

rebecca-sealThe Art Deco hotel has been serving cocktails to celebrities and VIPs for years, and was a well-known haunt of the Bright Young Things – a group of bohemian young aristocrats and socialites in 1920s London known for their wild parties, sex, drugs, drink and outrageous behaviour.

During the creation process, Seal explored the 90-year-old hotel’s colourful archives and also drew inspiration from The Courier Magazine; a title published for the “elite” of Mayfair during the same period.

Presented by time of day, from 2pm until midnight, the menu guides guests through different periods in history to “expand their knowledge on drinking etiquette and the story behind each drink”.

Read on to discover a selection of cocktails from the menu, presented with a slice of history and the appropriate etiquette for drinking them…


2pm: The Classic Champagne Cocktail

Time for afternoon tea, enlivened by a Champagne cocktail or two – a drink almost unchanged since its invention, probably several decades before its first printed mention in the early 1860s.
Etiquette: Until the 1970s, ladies wore gloves much of the time. While it was fine to sip a cocktail wearing gloves, it was polite to remove them at mealtimes, even for finger sandwiches and cake. Naturally, gentlemen must also remove their hats.

5pm: Carolina Plantation Bracer

Charles H Baker included this vigorous rum-based cocktail in the pick-me-up section of his book, Jigger Beaker Glass, having discovered it in 1927, in Charleston, South Carolina. The perfect drink to ease one from the troubles of the day into the calm waters of the evening.
Etiquette: Bar stools were introduced during Prohibition in 1920s America, when ladies first joined the drinking crowd and were given precedence for seating. (The urinals commonly placed in public bars were – thankfully – removed at this time too.)

6pm: Colonial Cooler

With gin, vermouth and Amer Picon, this is the very definition of an aperitif: light and mouthwateringly bittersweet, designed to open the appetite for the evening ahead. Baker first tasted this in Borneo, after a dicey afternoon adrift in a dead motor boat on the glassy sea off Sandakan.

7.30pm: Americano

Another aperitif (a word which comes from the Latin aperio, to open), and relation of the altogether stronger Negroni, which is made with gin rather than soda water. Invented in mid-19th century Italy, the Americano didn’t get its name until it became popular with American tourists in the 1920s, escaping Prohibition back home.
Etiquette: Just as a chilled drink in a stemmed glass should be held by the stem to avoid warming the liquid, so should a tall high-ball or short rocks glass containing cold liquid be held by the base.

9pm: Martini

In 1930s London, 9pm was considered the dinner hour and the Martini was the quintessential pre-dinner drink, made almost exclusively with gin.
Etiquette: A single Martini is usually sufficient for anyone, as Dorothy Parker may or may not have written in the 1920s. “I like to have a Martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host.” You have been warned.

Midnight: Sazerac

An unrivalled after-dinner digestif, the Sazerac is New Orlean’s absinthe-rinsed gift to the world, a rye whisky cocktail dating back to at least the 1880s.
Etiquette: At this stage in the game, all but the most well-mannered – and judicious – drinkers may have forgotten the rules of good behaviour. If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs (thank you Kipling, 1895) then you will be forever known as the ideal guest.


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