Head Here If… You want to step back in time while drinking in future classics
Welcome to Good Godfrey’s, the revamped bar at the historic Waldorf Hilton – home to hip flasks and refined madams…
First Things First
Over the last year or so the big news in this neighbourhood has been the refurbishment and the reopening of The Savoy and of course the American Bar. But less than five minutes walk takes us to The Waldorf Hotel. Like The Savoy this is a venue with a fabulous history. Sadly though it’s fallen off the radar. Then along comes Good Godfrey’s. Named in honour of Howard Godfrey of Howard Godfrey and the Waldorfians fame – the hit 1920’s house band, it nods nicely to the elegance of that decade without being a museum piece. The lighting is subtle and the furnishings comfortable, with a small, smart bar presided over by the charming Nelson Bernardes.
A lot of love has gone in to the creation of the Refined Madam (Tanqueray No. TEN, rose liqueur, fresh lime juice, cardamom syrup and lavender bitters) – starting with the research right through to the aroma and serve. It’s inspired by London’s past and present associations with gin with the ‘madam’ bit referring to ‘Madam Geneva’ the name given to the crudely made spirit of the 1800s and the ‘refined’ part coming in to play with the addition of the modern day premium gin, Tanqueray No. TEN.
You can tell from the ingredients and serve that this is very much a lady’s cocktail. The very genteel blushing drink arrives in a long-stemmed, extremely elegant glass on a small silver tray decorated with rose petals. And if that wasn’t ladylike enough, it’s spritzed at the table with an aromatic mix of Tanq and rosewater to fragrance the surrounding area. Yes, it does taste of rose, not one of Ms S’s usual favourites but here it’s carefully balanced and doesn’t overpower the drink.
Tempting though the luxury Waldorf-tini sounds (Tanqueray No TEN and grapefruit bitters or Grey Goose and ginger bitters, Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth, stirred in a gold shaker and garnished with edible gold, £17) Mr G keeps it real. Our man is a little reluctant to make recommendations (maybe he never gets asked) but when pushed he suggests his preferred variation, Tanqueray No TEN over the house Beefeater, with a touch of lavender bitters. Appropriate to the surroundings the drink is served in a beautiful, very long-stemmed glass with an elegantly cut slice of lemon peel – all very neat. The lavender is hardly there in the aroma next to the lemon, but did put in a nice little appearance on tasting. Well mixed and well presented with the lavender just delivering a subtle twist to the drink.
With such a great back story it would be plain dumb for Mr G and Ms S to pass up the Astor Hip Flask (bourbon based, “secret ingredients”). Taking its inspiration from William Waldorf Astor, the owner of the original Waldorf Astoria in New York and an investor in the Waldorf in London in 1908, it is another signature cocktail alongside Ms S’s Refined Madam. Like it’s feminine couterpart it has a lovely serve – namely an actual, honest-to-goodness hip flask from which you help yourself (into a glass of course). But it’s not all show, this is a delicious drink, having been barrel-aged it deliveres a big, rich flavour. And with winter heading our way we will definitely heading back for another one – oh, alright then, two.
And To Eat?
The Grazing menu is made up of small sharing dishes such as Crudités with 3 dips and Savoury Nibbles at £7.50, alongside a selection of 11 hot dishes including Tiger Prawns with Saffron Mayonnaise cocktail dip, a range of mini pies and Thai Surimi and Cod Cakes, all at £12.50. There are also three puddings – each taking their inspiration from a spirit including Glenmorangie cranachan, Orange Ketel One vodka jelly and Wray and Nephew rum and raisin chocolate mousse, all at £7.50.
Look Out For
The Astor hip flasks. Add one to your bill.
What’s the damage?
From £11 to £19; sharing drinks £46 to £60; non-alcoholic £7.50.
Ms S says
If you’re looking for a drink that has ‘lady’ written all over it, try the rose-tinted Refined Madam – it’s refreshing and elegant with just the right amount of gin peeking through – very classy.
Mr G says
I have very fond memories of The Waldorf from yesteryear and it’s fabulous to have a reason, other than nostalgia, to head back there. It’s a lovely little space that is quietly welcoming and cosy. Moreover the drinks deliver both the classics we would hope for and some lovely new creations courtesy of Nelson Bernardes. I’ll certainly be slipping in for a nifty one or two.
Good Godfrey’s Bar and Lounge, The Waldorf Hilton, Aldwych, WC2B 4DD. T: 020 7836 2400. thewaldorfhilton.co.uk
Open Monday – Saturday 8am to 2am, Sunday 9am to 12 midnight