With its dark wood panelling, billiard green walls and brass-topped bar, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Ralph Lauren’s newest bar was nestled in an upstate New York country club – an impression the polo mallets hanging from the wall do little to refute.
But when I dropped into the elegant establishment this morning, I didn’t have to drive out of the city or cross a polo field to get there. Instead, I jumped on the Central Line – for the brand’s intimate new bar can be found hidden in Ralph Lauren’s European flagship store, on London’s Regent Street.
My coffee came to the table with a crema as decadent as the decor and, after tearing open a Ralph Lauren-branded brown sugar sachet, I discovered a little more about the Americana-tinged bar.
Soft jazz plays quietly over the gentle buzz of conversation; businessmen and tourists alike savouring the large selection of drinks and all-day breakfast menu.
Open during the hours of the adjacent Ralph Lauren store, last orders are called at 8pm. And, with cocktails from the bourbon-based Smoking Jacket to such Cognac concoctions as the Crimson Royale to choose from, you’ll surely be counting down the hours to your return. The menu contains four solid pages of whisky alone – quite staggering for a bar that seats just 36 patrons at full capacity.
After Ralph Lauren opened their first European bar in Paris in 2010, the concept rapidly gained popularity. January 2015 saw a similar establishment open in New York, and now London has followed suit.
The quintessentially American feel is the thread that connects all of these eateries, and Ralph’s Coffee & Bar is no exception. In fact, two of the gins on offer are sourced from a small Brooklyn distillery, the New York Distilling Co, for that authentic US taste.
But this isn’t simply Americana imposed on the capital. Instead, English flecks have been sprinkled through the decor and menu – with cocktails such as the Regent Street Sour, Gimlet and Ralph’s Evening Roast created specifically for the British outpost.
Hot drinks start at £3, with breakfast dishes beginning at £3.50 – and a whole host of desserts, soups and salads are additionally served throughout the day under the bold brass lampshades and mirror-backed bar.
If you’re looking to visit, bear in mind that the weekends can be busy. But, if you do manage to grab a table, prepare to enjoy some welcome peace and excellent food in this vintage haven. Indeed, when I walk blinking back out onto Regent Street, it was as if I’d stepped back into London not just from a different country – but from a different time.