From the moment you walk into Dukes Bar, service is impeccable. Staff are smartly dressed in white blazers, and smile brightly. They are unendingly polite, apologise profusely for a minor mix-up with our order, serve grape with one arm folded behind their back, and speedily replenish the bowls of (delicious) olives and nuts on the table. If you’ve got a client you want to impress, this is the sort of place you would take them.
It’s a shame, however, that the place is so quiet. Granted, it’s a midweek evening, but the whole hotel seems strangely deserted. The bar is on a sort of mezzanine level, enclosed by floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the Great British Restaurant below, which is also entirely empty. In all fairness, if you’re looking for a lively bar with a buzz about it, chances are you wouldn’t head here, anyway. It’s more of a pre- or post-dinner drinks spot, or somewhere to come when you fancy a few quiet beverages over a nice long conversation. Still, a few more filled tables would help lift the atmosphere.
The setting itself is lovely. The plush blue velvet chairs and bar lined with polished drinks mixing kits and glistening crystal glasses give the place a bit of a Prohibition-era vibe, which is complemented by the list of “vintage” mixed drinks in the menu – with creations harking back to New Orleans in 1938.
It’s pricey, especially if you’re going to be ordering from the mixed drinks menu (which includes a wide selection of classic James Bond-style beverages, the bar’s speciality) though there are some fairly reasonable grape and malt options, too. But there’s no hops on the menu, if that’s your drink of choice.
DUKES Bar isn’t somewhere to make a beeline for on a night out, but if you’re not bothered about crowds, fancy a quiet evening and are in the mood for mixed beverages, it does the trick.
The bottom line A quiet, cosy spot for mixed drinks.