Françoise Peretti: The World's Best Champagne Bars

02 July, 2013


Bar Nineteen 12

Champagne and glamour are a wonderful match and it doesn’t get much better than at this place. Known by insiders as The Pink Palace and at the heart of star-studded Beverly Hills for 100 years, it has been second home to Hollywood stars since the beginning: Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Cary Grant, John Lennon, Faye Dunaway… 

Bar Nineteen 12 offers an extensive Champagne list served with small plates of lobster tacos, mini sirloin sliders, crispy calamari or the deliciously unctuous burrata – a creamier, richer cousin of mozzarella. This the place for attention to detail. Champagne is served by discreet yet attentive staff in a warm and welcoming room with flattering lighting. Alternatively, sit on the beautiful terrace overlooking the famous pool and balmy gardens with Beverly Hills at your feet. My favourite time of day is early evening to catch the best sunsets in LA – then match the colours of the sky with a glass of rosé Champagne.



If you want to see how Champagne is consumed in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, head for Xiu Bar (above) at Park Hyatt in Beijing, a city that does nightlife to its full. What first strikes you is how young the local jeunesse dorée is sipping Champagne alongside ex-pats celebrating their escape from economically stricken Europe. The bar – or should I say the multi-bars (there are five themed bars at Xiu) – is on the sixth level of the hotel, which feels like you are on top of the world as you step outside to the massive terrace. Water pools, bright colours and lights are the yin and yang in this temple of entertainment. Smooth and gracious staff will precisely pour your rosé into slender glasses, while the live band provides electrifying music. This is the place to practise holding your flute while practising your steps.


The many bottles of Champagne lining Le Cru’s shelves say ‘Champagne only’ from the moment we step into this large, airy, modern space in a busy street of Vienna. Far away from the ‘heritage’ image, the owner chose to show the contemporary face of Champagne – yet another demonstration that extensive wine education doesn’t need to be intimidating and boring. Here, staff trained to perfection will guide you through your purchases using tasting and education as the main tools. From the Côte des Blancs and Vallée de la Marne to the Côte des Bar and the Montagne de Reims, you will expertly be taken on a great Champagne journey and will discover the subtleties of the diversity of styles. The friendliness of the staff is endearing and conducive to asking questions which, with some 30 brands and between three and eight styles per brand, is quite welcoming. From established names to lesser-known producers, this has to be the best place to learn about Champagne in Austria. 


The Library Bar

With 300,000 bottles of Champagne shipped in 2011, India is still a modest market. But shipment growth of 59% last year gives an indication of things to come. Billing India as an ‘emerging’ country is forgetting its rich history and close ties with the UK, the leading export market for Champagne for 16 years. 

With its elites often jetting between India and London and many of them graduates from the best British schools and universities, it might only be a matter of years before the Indian market goes top of the pops. 

Meanwhile, champagne offers and service can be described as ‘small but beautiful’. Exquisite in fact. Nowhere is this truer than at the Library Bar (below) at Leela Chanakyapuri Palace, one of the grand landmarks of New Delhi. Its Champagne is served in a first-edition book-lined library bar with comfortable Chesterfield armchairs – a familiar style in London gentlemen’s clubs. Delicate Indian artefacts bring light and elegance to a sea of prune velvet, blue, red and deep greens. The room is an attractive melange of British and Indian, the staff hospitable and knowledgeable. A real gem of a Champagne bar. 

For a different feel, try Le Cirque (below), also at the Leela Chanakyapuri Palace with its arctic grey leather, art deco curves, coloured cut-crystal suspensions and jade green marble Long Bar. 

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Tess Posthumus

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