In any busy city, the occasional escape from the noise of daily life isn’t just a luxury, but a necessity. One of the quickest ways to make that break in Paris is through the oasis of a high-end hotel bar.
Around for nearly 200 years, the historical Hotel Westminster has welcomed a royal or two back in the day, including its namesake the Duke of Westminster. Their bar, Duke’s, is an English Club homage where you can feel your frazzled psyche emit a sigh of relief as you sink into comfy green armchairs.
Recently this 4 star hotel has revamped a few dozen of their hotel rooms to make them Signature Suites. These suites are a more luxurious option a lot of little extras to make a stay special, including a complimentary Signature cocktail. For those not shacking up in these swank digs, you can still make your way into the bar and order a Signature cocktail (although in that case, it doesn’t come free…)
Duke’s ‘signature’ is basically a bespoke cocktail. Custom cocktails are nothing new. Yet, often personalized cocktails mean your favorite juice + your favorite spirit + random garnish that equals a somewhat underwhelming experience. Duke’s makes more of an effort with tailor-made tipples and gets guests interacting with a short questionnaire where guests indicate favorite spirits and alcohols and complete some multiple choices on serving options, herbal preferences, etc. So, if you like rhum in dry drinks that are stimulating and served straight up, you may get a mix of Mount Gay, green chartreuse, noilly prat and a whisper of mint with a champagne topper, which ticks all your boxes.
While they encourage personalized drinks, the menu also suggests a handful of classics from the 20’s and 30’s like their Remember the Maine (which was nicely made, although I’m not 100% positive it included absinthe as in the original) and they can also stir up a decent dry martini. Gins include the usual suspects such as Bombay Sapphire, Beefeater, and Tanqueray Ten. The spirits selection isn’t vast, but they work well with what they do have. In line with upper-end hotel prices, drinks run around 18 Euros.
Overseeing the bar is Gérard, who adds some old-school class and is ready with spirits trivia and tidbits as well as a substantial repertoire of cocktail related quotations (“Let’s get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini…”) Also behind the bar is Albert, previously of the Moonshiner, who was responsible for nailing our Signature cocktails.
We didn’t test the food, but it’s presumably a place that offers up a better class of snack with the menu being overseen by the hotel’s Michelin starred restaurant’s chef, Christophe Moisand.
A couple of bonus points for being open during the day and 7/7. And with its low lights, cozy atmosphere and rich wood paneling it’s a lovely place to lose a few hours warming up on winter nights.
Duke’s at Westminster
13 Rue de la Paix