Le Magritte London Bar Review: A Work of Art


Some lessons really shouldn’t require teaching, but this weekend I learned the hard way that covering your face with temporary tattoos isn’t the wisest move when an afternoon under the scorching summer sun follows. My cheeks now sport the tan lines from hell, including an unsightly patch that looks like an apple with a chewed bite. Good old Glastonbury.

Mind you, the fruit on the face has been big ever since Rene Magritte’s bowler hat, Granny Smith’s Son of Man, the surrealist’s 1964 self-portrait about looking beyond the obvious, or something like that. Magritte inspired a new (rather) walnut-panelled American bar in the Beaumont, where a copy of the Schoolmaster – an older brother of the Son – is framed by golden-brown liquor bottles and lends his name to the first drink on the “ceci n’est pas” card (cigars in the spotlight, but no pipes).

While the deco lounge, which really does feel like it belongs on a yacht, is as old world as it gets – brass-studded chairs, carafes everywhere, obligatory Rat Pack cliches – the cocktail list is surprisingly and admirably inventive for a place that could get away with nothing but mandatory Martinis for all. See Meditation, where two types of Scotch are blended with port and cynar, or Memory of a Journey, which puts Amaro Montenegro with Campari, coffee liqueur and sweet vermouth. There are brains at work here; they too look beyond the obvious.

Their specialty, however, is a seductive kind of comfort. The snacks arrive spontaneously, at the end the champagne is suggested “for the road”. Semi-darkness is good too – just enough shade to camouflage even the silliest tan.

The Beaumont, 8 rue Balderton, W1. Cocktails around £20; thebeaumont.com

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