Don’t get no satisfaction from your usual bar haunts? Bar 190 at the Gore Hotel is the answer, popular with the rock elite, including The Rolling Stones and Liam Gallagher.
The Gore Hotel is located in South Kensington, among the swathes of stunning white marble buildings so typical of the area. It’s an odd choice, perhaps, for some of the biggest rebellious rock gods in the business to hang out, but somehow it has carved this niche for itself.
The bar itself is located just through the main entrance and is a decadent, homely space that mixes the feel of a top class hotel with the edge demanded by trendsters. Wooden panels, rich leathers, granny chic lamps and opulent boudoir-style private areas dominate the space, giving a kitsch-meets-quirky look that’s utterly charming. Smartly, they have also played on their rock ‘n’ roll clientele with pictures of the Rolling Stones partying on the premises hanging from the walls – who wouldn’t want to shout that out?
Bar 190 at the Gore Hotel may be on the edgier side of a hotel bar but the service is still 100 per cent high-end. The staff are incredibly friendly and professional with everyone treated to the end-to-end experience that you would expect from this sort of establishment. However, while many hotel bars attract a large amount of businessmen, here it’s a refreshing mix of the rock elite, hotel guests, groups of friends chilling out and people on dates. Casual, dressed-up, ready for a meeting – it’s a great mix of people and styles that lends an eclectic appeal to the drinking experience.
Many people at Bar 190 are getting ready to dine at the adjoining restaurant – or have already eaten there – but if you are hungry and don’t fancy a big meal you can enjoy nibbles from the menu, priced at £10.50 for three dishes or £19 for six. Alternatively you can order larger dishes like club sandwiches or burgers for £9-£14.50.
The food is actually fantastic and far above the usual bar grub you may have become accustomed to in London. Coming straight from the restaurant kitchen, everything from simple marinated olives to calamari and sautéed prawns showcases the quality of the ingredients that this hotel utilises. For the price, the value is undisputable.
On paper, the drinks at Bar 190 at the Gore Hotel sound like they may fall foul of being a little too commercial and even insipid. Luckily, nothing could be further from the truth and although they aren’t cheap at an average price of £10.50, they are certainly worth the couple of extra quid above the usual high street bars. The cocktails are incredibly well mixed and balanced to allow the flavour of the alcohol to work well with quality mixers. For example, a traditional Espresso Martini is made with freshly brewed, quality espresso instead of coffee powder for an intensely rich coffee undertone that works well with the Tia Maria. It’s heavy and rich but so well mixed that you’ll drink it down all-too easily.
However, the real sign of a great cocktail bar is the ability of the barman to stray from the menu and do the classics – and they certainly pass that test here. The notoriously difficult to balance Sazerac is mixed perfectly. Ensuring that neat rye whiskey and bitters don’t overpower the drink is no mean feat, but it’s faultlessly reproduced here and they even add the delicate absinthe wash, which is so essential to this cocktail. It’s at least as good as what is produced at some of the top hotel bars in the capital.
The Last Word
Bar 190 at the Gore Hotel isn’t as well known as some of London’s top hotel bars but its under-the-radar appeal attracts more than its fair share of A-Listers – and it’s easy to see why it’s their bar of choice.