Dukes hotel bar used to be one of my favourite places. It was certainly the site of one of my favourite things to say, namely: “Two Tanqueray martinis, please”. It was a cosy, homely environment in which to consume vast quantities of alcohol and still feel at ease with yourself. It used to feel like a gentlemans’ club, or drinking in someone’s rather baroque front room; a great experience which I used to revel in. The number of random people I’ve started talking to in Dukes is testament to its powers of conviviality.
However, the filthy bastards have re-modeled the bar. It is now a vile shade of light blue, the inner sanctum has had a window knocked through into the lesser drinking area and all of this makes it different enough to be distracting. Even the chairs have been changed, they are smaller and less comfortable. I admit, the martinis are still just as heroic, even though they now add more vermouth from a mister rather than a token few drops from a dropper bottle. The drinking experience is not the same, though. The whole place is lighter, more sanitised and not as conducive to heavy drinking and socialising as the old bar. It feels a lot more anonymous and has lost the charm it used to have.
I have to add, I am also disappointed that the anti-smoking laws have come into power in the UK, so I cannot get incredibly newscasted and order a big Cuban to suck on.
I often used to feel like dropping by Dukes to have my mind altered by a big glass of gin, but since the re-decoration I just don’t feel the same about it anymore. I am sure I will return, but it will not be as often or for as long.