04 Mar Day Off Diaries: An Expert London Bartender on Her Favorite Cocktail Spots in the City
Shannon Tebay, the first American bartender at London’s American Bar, shares her top tipples in town.
With its white-jacketed staff and glamour crowd sipping martinis, the American Bar at the Hotel Savoy has been one of those lost-in-time London treasures for more than a century. But when it reopened last fall, it had gotten a makeover thanks to new head bartender Shannon Tebay, the first actual American ever to take the helm of the legendary watering hole.
The 36-year-old mixologist, who previously ran New York’s pioneering Death & Co., has set out to work within tradition rather than to scrap it. “People describe my style as ‘dynamic minimalism,’ ” she says, “which means classic-drink templates with unexpected, often wacky flavor combinations.” Her menu includes cocktails like the Ivory Nickoll; named for longtime American Bar pianist Jon Nickoll, it’s a bit like a Rob Roy but with smoky, tropical notes.
When not marrying Japanese gin and absinthe (the Suffragette) or rye with a peanut butter fat wash and sherry (the Century Club), Tebay tries to learn the latest from her fellow cocktail mavens. Here, her favorite finds in her new hometown.
Contemporary British: Lyle’s
“A former Lipton-tea warehouse with polished concrete floors, soaring ceilings, and white tiled walls is the perfect backdrop for elegant but unfussy dishes. The wine list is incredible.”
Drinks with a view: Lyaness
“In addition to utilizing some of the most advanced drink-making technology I’ve ever seen, Lyaness is impressive for its community engagement. Each time I visit, they are hosting a pop-up to raise money for another bar in need, or featuring a collaboration involving an up-and-coming brand. This swanky on-the-Thames bar by superstar Ryan Chetiyawardana features a high-concept drink menu with seven signature ingredients. Your drink depends upon your curiosity level.”
Mezcal moments: KOL
“I first went to this buzzy Marylebone Mexican restaurant to meet my American Bar predecessor, Maxim Schulte, who runs the restaurant’s Mezcaleria. I was wowed by the pork-cheek carnitas with cabbage leaves, and a mezcal Hanky Panky. I love mezcal and am happy to have an agave haunt here.”
Killer small plates: Kiln
“I like to sit at the counter to watch as chefs prepare fiery foods like Burmese wild-ginger-and-beef-neck curry in clay pots, woks, and the wood-burning oven. An eclectic selection of music—vinyl!—adds to the cozy-cool setting.”
Upcycling: Artesian at The Langham
“I love bartenders Lorenza Pezzetta and Giulia Cuccurullo’s ‘connections’ menu, which explores concepts like sustainability and wellness through ingredients. Their Around the Kitchen drink turns coffee grains, pineapple rind, and avocado pits from breakfast service into a cocktail.”