Hospitality Business

The World’s Oldest Vintage Spirits and Cocktails at the Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel

Cocktail Maestro Salvatore Calabrese brings a splash of ‘Liquid History’ to the iconic Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel, with an exclusive menu of Vintage Cocktails made with his own personal collection of rare and historic spirits, available to purchase at one of London’s oldest hotel bars.

The Vintage Cocktail selection, which has been carefully curated by Salvatore himself, will allow drinkers to step back in time and explore the history of mixed drinks, in which Brown’s has played its own important role, featuring an eclectic selection of much-loved and forgotten classic cocktails made with the spirits of their time.

The most famous mixologist of his age, the great Harry Craddock was famously lured out of retirement in 1947 to launch Brown’s first cocktail bar, bringing with him some of the best-loved recipes from his world famous Savoy Cocktail Book. Today, cocktail historians can enjoy a White Lady made with Gordons gin and Cointreau circa 1930, the year the guide was published. Or take a trip across the pond with the Aviation, an elegant classic created by Hugo Ensslin during his tenure as Head Bartender at the Hotel Wallick in New York in the early 20th Century. His creation was first published in his future classic Recipes for Mixed Drinks and is served up at the Donovan Bar with 1930’s Gordons gin, Crème de Violette and Zara maraschino.

Named “a blessed retreat” by celebrated drinker Mark Twain, Brown’s has long had a strong literary association, which is celebrated throughout the Donovan Bar menu. Famously ordered by 007 in Ian Fleming’s 1953 novel Casino Royale and named for the original Bond Girl, the Vesper Martini is made just as Bond would have enjoyed it, with Gordon’s Gin and Smirnoff Vodka from the 1950’s and a measure of 1949 Kina Lillet. In a similarly literary vein, Ernest Hemingway’s favourite tipple, the Daiquiri, is created with Bacardi Santiago Cuba from the turn of the 20th Century and the classic Brandy Alexander – which makes a star turn in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and received renewed popularity in the 60’s and 70’s – features a 1956 Lheraud Grandee Champagne Cognac and Bols Crème de Caçao from 1960.

The crowning glory of the Vintage Cocktails menu is Salvatore’s Legacy, the world’s oldest cocktail and the ultimate experience in Liquid History. Made using the bar’s oldest spirit, a 1788 Clos de Griffier Vieux cognac, as well as Dubb Orange liqueur (c1860) and a dash of Angostura Bitters (c1930), this original creation of Salvatore’s offers more than 700 years of liquid history and is priced at £5,500.

In addition to the vintage cocktail menu, guests are invited to peruse Salvatore’s entire spirit collection, which is the result of over 35 years of scouring auction houses for the world’s oldest and rarest bottles.

The iconic Mayfair institution at Brown’s Hotel recently relaunched following a complete re-design by Olga Polizzi and Inge Moore, with the addition of a separate entrance on Albemarle Street and its own doorman ready to welcome non-resident guests to experience the exclusive menu from legendary drinks maestro
Salvatore Calabrese. Residing in one of London’s most iconic hotels, the Donovan Bar has long been known as one of the most intimate and sophisticated drinking dens in the city playing host to gatherings of the most glamorous faces of Mayfair’s elite fashion and art scene, including the bar’s namesake and close friend of the Forte family, the iconic 1960’s photographer Terence Donovan.

Salvatore Calabrese
Salvatore Calabrese is one of the world’s leading bartenders and a former President of the United Kingdom Bartender’s Guild. He has been making drinks for more than forty years in top hotels, private members clubs and exclusive cocktail bars. In 1980, Salvatore moved to England and joined the Dukes Hotel, where he came up with the concept of Liquid History and created the recipe for the ultimate Dry Martini. He has since moved to the Lanesborough Hotel and ran his own bar at the Fifty St James club.

Brown’s Hotel
Brown’s Hotel is London’s first hotel having opened on Albemarle Street in 1837. Since opening it has become one of London’s most illustrious hotels and has hosted esteemed guests, from royals to presidents. Brown’s not only offers a rich history but also first-class facilities, award-winning dining and outstanding service in the heart of Mayfair.