Platinum List 2019: Best Intimate Bars and Lounges

The Egerton House Hotel, Dante, King Cole Bar

September/ October 2019
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From New York to Mexico City, these buzzy spots are the toast of the town.

The Bar at the Egerton House

London, England

James Bond walks into a small, elegant bar in central London and orders a martini, neither shaken nor stirred. As the drink is served, 007 smiles at a beautiful woman sitting nearby, and then, without breaking eye contact, brings his face down to the glass and makes a noise like a bathtub emptying. 

The so-called “Egerton Slurp” might not fit in a Bond movie, but it works fine for the patrons of The Bar at The Egerton House Hotel, a boutique property in affluent Knightsbridge. For a long time now, this tiny bar has served what many believe to be the best martini in town. Options run from chocolate to lemon drop to lychee, but real devotees order the classic.

“This place is a temple,” says barman Esley Gunaratne. “People come to worship the martini.” He exaggerates, but there is something ritualistic about the way he goes about his work. “The glass and bottle are chilled to minus-22 degrees,” he says. “There is no ice, no dilution.” He pours the unshaken, unstirred spirit to the rim of the glass, adds a suggestion of vermouth and a lemon twist, then tells me how to drink it: “Don’t pick it up; put your face down.” 

In his white jacket and black bow tie, Gunaratne looks every bit the genteel English barman. His manner, though, tells a different story. At one point, a regular comes in and he asks her how she’d like her martini. “Make me a dirty!” she says with a sly smile. “Ah,” Gunaratne replies. “My kind of girl.”

Things get even less formal on Saturday afternoons, when The Egerton hosts its doggie afternoon tea. While four-legged guests don’t get to try the martinis (they drink alcohol-free “pawsecco”), they do have the slurp thing down to a fine art.
—Chris Wright

Dante

New York City, New York, United States

A storied venue since the glory days of Greenwich Village, this history-laden spot now serves acclaimed craft cocktails and bites. 

King Cole Bar, Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico

Overlooking the capital’s Angel of Independence column and Chapultepec Castle, this swank spot offers a signature Bloody Mary. 

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