Galvin at Windows, London
A stunning view of Hyde Park, supplemented with cocktails inspired by East Asian culture and flavors
The 28th floor of London Hilton on Park Lane sports more than a stunning, unobstructed view of Hyde Park and the city. Galvin at Windows bar makes unique cocktails worth peeling your eyes away from the panorama. Bar manager Boris Ivan cites Japanese bartending as a major influence. He recently traveled throughout South Korea, Japan and Hong Kong to better understand the philosophy behind their approaches to the craft. In a blog post titled "Harmonious Bartending," he writes, "Japanese bartenders, like other professionals, reflect their national soul in every step they take... Everyone behind the bar has a role, everything has a purpose and every action is detailed to make [the] final result perfect. Westerners focus too much on the final result without considering in detail the way to achieve it. Japanese people think of every single step in a very precise way and believe that this will bring the final result closest to perfection."
This is the mindset behind the current drink list at Galvin at Windows, which is inspired by the unique flavors of East Asia. The addition of "exotic" ingredients to the menu can at times feel contrived, especially in an upscale setting, but here, each cocktail wows with its considered preparation and presentation. The matcha gin and tonic (pictured below) has green tea foam floating atop basil-infused Tanqueray like a cloud. Then there's the Mangetsu (above left), which is a 12-year-old Chivas whisky sour with spiced street flavors of Osaka, served in a silver bowl (reminiscent of Korean makgeolli, often served and sipped in bowls). Also of note is the flowery pink Kowloon Market, a blend of Stoli Elit, mixed berry tea and spiced masticha.
The bar is connected to the Michelin-starred restaurant of the same name (perhaps it's no coincidence that the head chef Joo Won hails from Busan, South Korea). Don't leave without having tried the restaurant's seasonal cheese plate, supplied by local Bayswater cheesemonger Buchanan's, who mature their selections in-house in cheese cellars.
Visit the Galvin at Windows website to peruse the full menu—which will remain largely the same until the end of the year, aside from a few seasonal updates—and to mentally prepare for the prices. Cocktails average £16 to £17.
Images by Nara Shin