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Issue 34 - On the fashion trail

Whisky Magazine Issue 34
October 2003


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On the fashion trail

The Lonsdale in London recently hosted a Whisky Magazine cocktail challenge. Dominic Roskrow spoke to general manager Henry Besant.

If you're of the view that whisky doesn't have a place in the most stylish and fashionable city centre bars, you ought to have a word with Henry Besant.

It's fair to say that Henry has been around a bit. He's currently running the trendy Lonsdale at the heart of London's fashionable Notting Hill and his CV reads like an Ato Z of London's glitziest style bars and hotels.

Perhaps the pinnacle of his career so far was taking on a not too successful Rockwell Bar in Trafalgar Square and through the promotion of bourbon, helping to turn it in to the capital's top bar.

That's not a subjective view, either; last year it won both Time Out's and the London Evening Standard's Bar of the Year – the first venue to hold both titles at the same time.

Now Henry has moved to the Lonsdale, he hasn't forgotten how important the role of whisky has been to his success. Far from it. In fact he's a bit of a walking advert for all things malt and rye.

“I'm a big fan of whisky,” he says just as soon as we meet. “It's very important. In fact I'd say that if a bar is serious about doing well it should have a large choice of bourbons and just as many single malts.”

In August, the Lonsdale hosted a whisky cocktail challenge (full report in the next issue) at which a selection of top barmen made a traditional and a modern cocktail using a range of whisky products.

The point of it was to prove to cynics that whisky – including some quite testing single malts – could appeal to the fash...

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