Dukes Hotel Bar
For the last word in elegant liquid suicide, head far away from the herd and down to Dukes Hotel for one of the very elegant business bars, in a charming old-school establishment, tucked away in its own courtyard off St James’s. There, amid the traditional wood-panelled and tastefully decorated surroundings of its bar, you will find Alessandro, head barman and mixer of reputedly the best Martinis in London. At your pleasure Alessandro will wheel out his Martini trolley to your table, prepare his paraphernalia and ask you, ‘Gin or vodka, Sir/Madam?’ The answer is academic, for either path is a route to swift and sure inebriation. Ernest Hemingway, recalling the effect of his first two Martinis, claimed, ‘They made me civilized’. If being civilized equates to being oblivious to the hideousness of one’s fellow man, then one must concur. After a couple of Dukes Hotel Martinis (such is the imposed limit), the typically odd Mayfair crowd that frequents the bar – at once wealthy, tawdry and slightly disreputable – fades into the background, the conservatively patterned wallpaper and tasteful old-school prints blur, and one is left only semi-conscious, clutching a large bill and in urgent need of paracetamol.