Cocktail Hour with Laura Bailey in London, Paris and Rome

Laura Bailey is a model, a writer and cultural ambassador for the British Fashion Council. Her travels are usually filled with runway shows and shoots, but for SUITCASE Volume 9, the food and drink issue, she travelled through three European capitals in pursuit of the perfect cocktail hour.

This article first appears in Volume 9: Food and Drink.

decadent pursuit of the perfect cocktail hour, evocative of
stolen twilight zones and dangerous liaisons. The heady chase of
heat and fizz at home or abroad. City memory maps studded with
whispered secrets and nocturnal promise. Of all the bars in all the
world, here are a few of my favourites from London, Paris and


A Root Negroni at Spring

Arrive from the Strand at the Courtauld Gallery. With the
festive sweep of the courtyard before you, ice rink et al, bear
right towards Spring, Skye Gyngell’s brave new world – a feast for
all the senses. Her exquisite food is the main draw, but I’d be
happy to sit for a while on a blush pink sofa or in the garden
salon and linger over a seasonal cocktail, or simply the greenest
of Granny Smith apple juice, saving the hard liquor for later. The
ingredients of October’s ‘Root Negroni’ read like artisanal
medicine; beetroot campari, Great King Street whisky, barolo
chinato and ginger. Rich winter pickings in a room with a view.

A Bellini at Le Fumoir, Claridge’s

Le Fumoir is an open secret, a bar in miniature (12 or so guests
maximum), cocooned in the heart of the iconic Claridge’s. Thirties
décor, old-school charm and a red velvet corner seat in eternal
golden twilight. A Bellini is the traditional choice, an optimistic
punctuation mark between what remains of the day and the
approaching night’s promise. Silver-service peach fizz – the
epitome of glamour in a momentarily perfect world.

A Godmother at Moral Fox at The Globe

Vodka and amaretto, southern style (along with the accompanying
chicken and triple-fried chips.) Sweetness and light vs trouble and
strife. As a vegetarian, my Moral Fox diet is purely liquid, but
‘The Godmother’ has fast become a kind of code amongst a certain
group of friends, transmitting a desire for escape, distraction and
a cocktail hour or two, a stone’s throw from home.


An Old-Fashioned at Le

Late in Paris. After work. On the way to bed. The siren call of
a hotel bar. A desire to be the kind of girl who drinks whisky, not
white wine. But I don’t know what I like, or how to order it if I
did. Overdue a serious education, I copy my friends and opt for a
back-in-fashion Old-Fashioned. No fruity frills, no nonsense.
Archetypal cocktail alchemy – a spirit, a sweet, a bitter, a sour
and water – extra soda my only sheepish violation. And in future,
when travelling alone, I’ll nurse my whisky at the bar,
convincingly lost in thought and film noir fantasies.

A Caipirinha at Thoumieux

After a particularly high-spirited trip to Brazil, it took me a
long time to rediscover the Caipirinha. My craving was rekindled at
Thoumieux, fuelled by nostalgia and curiosity. The waiter was
balancing a tray of ten goblets, as the kind of friends who see
each other once or twice a year picked up the threads of old
stories in multiple languages on a sugar/cachaça high. The crunch
and the squint of a sweet and sour summer, Parisienne-style.

A Mojito at Ferdi

One of my favourite spots in the 1st, Ferdi is consciously ‘non
chi-chi’, and Alicia and Jacques Fontanier have a loyal band of
regulars. A mojito wouldn’t be my usual choice, but somehow, here,
it is the obvious selection, complement- ing both the eclectic
ambience and the family-style tapas. There is sometimes a table for
two perched on the sleepy street outside where we end up in
between- times. The transient restlessness of fashion shows and
shoots briefly rooted by a rendezvous at Ferdi. Apero – the French
version of happy hour. Precious rituals.


A Bloody Mary at The Stravinskij Bar at the Hotel de Russie

On the edge of Piazza del Popolo, and a stylish stroll from the
Spanish Steps, the Hotel de Russie is a perfectly positioned
show-off, boasting both the ancient and the modern, style and soul.
The picture-perfect courtyard bar mixes martinis for the jet-set by
night but it’s the morning-after breakfast on the terrace in the
vast garden beyond that truly serenades the senses. I hide behind
big shades and the Herald Tribune with a Bloody Mary, eavesdropping
on la dolce vita.

A Negroni at Pierluigi

An emotional favourite, Pierluigi calls me back. Idyllically
perched on the almost secret, sleepy Piazza de Ricci, the restau-
rant overachieves with a little help from its miniature cocktail
bar on the side, where my friends and I whiled away a summer’s
night promising to learn Italian. Truly one of the most romantic
spots in Rome, the place you tell your friends to go if they have
just one night…I order a Negroni. On the rocks. When in Rome.

An Americano at Bar del Fico

Before its makeover, del Fico was part street theatre, part
unreconstructed raw ‘fico’ (meaning ‘cool’ as well as ‘fig’ for the
tree that marks the spot.) A glossier chic has taken over, but the
chain-smoking chess players remain, along with tourists meandering
from nearby Piazza Navona and loyal locals savouring aperitivi on
their way home from work. A glammed-up neighbourhood landmark with
enough rough edges to appease old friends. Prosecco, possibly, or
an Americano, alone. An all-Italian cocktail despite the name. A
Roman holiday kind of classic.

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