Over on the Alcohol Professor, I have a three-parter about the famed American Bar in London’s upscale Savoy Hotel. But Spies at the Savoy doesn’t restrict itself to a history of the bar, since I have no self-control. It also covers a history of cocktails themselves, the birth and evolution of hotel bars and cocktail culture in New York, the ties between the Savoy and the British intelligence service during WWII, and what exactly it all has to do with shoving your arm up a horse’s butt.
The Savoy Hotel was also one of the first spots in the United Kingdom — and indeed, in the whole of Europe — to import this new American style “cocktail” and bartending culture, courtesy of bartender Frank Wells, who ran the hotel’s bar from 1893 until 1902. Along with The Ritz in Paris, the Savoy represents the beachfront for the European take on the “American bar” — which is why the bar at the Savoy is known as the American Bar. The notion of a cocktail being an American invention is widely accepted and, of course, a much more complicated claim than can be easily settled.