Andrea Di Chiara and Anna Sebastian

Andrea Di Chiara: reopening American Bar

26 July, 2022

Drinks International sat down with the acting bar manager of the American Bar at The Savoy, Andrea Di Chiara, to talk about the closure, reopening and a new dawn at the UK’s oldest surviving cocktail bar.

In May, the American Bar at The Savoy announced that it would be launching a new menu to coincide with the bar’s reopening to the public after Covid-19 lockdowns had closed the doors for almost two years.

“My promise was that those doors were not going to close again, no matter what,” says Di Chiara. “We were shut for a long time. The hotel closed at the beginning of the pandemic and then when some parts of the hotel opened again that September, the American Bar stayed shut because of the social distancing restrictions.

“Then, we reopened the bar in November last year, but six weeks later we had to close again. Finally, we reopened it for good on 25 February. So really, we weren’t open for two years.

“The most important thing for me was to reopen the doors as soon as we could, everything else we can find solutions once we’re open but the most important thing was to bring the place back to life and bring back our regular guests.”

The new menu Re:Invented, created by the American Bar team under the direction of Anna Sebastian, served as a retrospective paying homage to past legends who have led the bar in Harry Craddock, Peter Dorelli, Salim Khoury, and Erik Lorincz, as well as looking forward to the future with a focus on modern techniques, sustainable practices, and seasonality.

“The creation of the cocktail list was very important to the reopening,” explains Di Chiara. “This a heavy uniform, it comes with a lot of pressure and eyes on us, but that pressure gives you more energy and inspiration. With the new menu, we wanted to be as genuine as possible but also keep things simple.

“We wanted to celebrate what the American Bar was before, and not just before the pandemic but all the eras that the bar has been through, but with a modern touch, through sustainability and keep being innovative.

“It was important to honour all of the incredible hard work that has been done in the past here, the whole menu has been created by our current team members and each member works on a small piece.”

In Di Chiara’s five years at the hotel, he’s seen the American Bar under the stewardship of a number of bartending luminaries including Maxim Schulte and Erik Lorincz. In July, the bar revealed that Chelsie Bailey, formerly of Happiness Forgets, would be taking the reins as the bar’s 13th head bartender.

“The arrival of Chelsie will be great. Every time you have a new head bartender there’s new energy, a new point of view and this brings with it a different challenge and atmosphere, it’s very positive.

“Each head bartender is like another piece that you add to the bar. But most importantly I love Chelsie’s approach to life, she’s an incredible personality and that’s the most important thing, that’s what brings a great balance to the bar.”

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