It was twenty years ago – October 2000 – that the legendary Blue Bar at The Berkeley first opened its doors, created by the late great designer David Collins. The Blue Bar was one of the first to make hotel bars a place to be seen and a ‘scene’, leading the way for others to follow in its path. As The Berkeley looks back on two dazzling decades of drinks and glamorous hospitality and shares memorable moments and stories, the Blue Bar marks this milestone with a special anniversary cocktail, the BB20.
The Blue Bar was first unveiled on 16th October 2000, designed by distinguished designer David Collins of David Collins Studio. Names originally discussed were either ‘The Venetian Bar’ or ‘The Lutyens Bar’, but David Collins had created such a standout hue for the walls of the space, that it could really only be called the Blue Bar. The paint was specially created from 50 different shades and dubbed ‘Lutyens Blue’, an ode to Sir Edwin Lutyens – leading British architect – who originally designed the wood carvings that appear in the room today. These elaborate carvings where transported from the ‘old’ Berkeley, originally based on Piccadilly. History, therefore, lies in the very walls of the space.
The Blue Bar was an early haunt of entertainment royalty counting Madonna – a close friend of Collins – as a regular guest. The queen of pop regaled the media with tales of its lighting which in her opinion was the most flattering in town, and she persuaded Collins to use the Blue Bar to inspire her London home décor. The fashionista crowd followed and the bar soon became known for its glamourous parties thrown by luminaries such as John Galliano, Zac Posen and Chanel. Stephen Jones, Naomi Campbell, Jade Jagger and fashion legend Isabella Blow flocked to the bar that had previously been a sleepy sitting room in the hotel, anointing it as the place to be.
The vibe set the Blue Bar apart from others and in 2002 the Blue Bar Volume 1 was released. This was a three CD compilation of hypnotic, chilled beats, world music, jazz and deep house of the time – the sounds of the Blue Bar. Creativity running through it, the CD box was fashioned into an oversized cigarette box in Lutyens Blue and the CDs were housed in three matchbooks, each featuring a different texture and pattern based on the textiles in the bar. This became a legendary compilation, climaxing with a rare mix of ‘Music’ – a coup appointed to the bar by Madonna who rarely appeared on compliation discs. By popular demand, Volume 2 followed in 2005 – a vision in silver. The hotel also created a Blue Bar candle in collaboration with Diptyque whose flames flickered in the bar from launch. The distinctive Figuier fragrance captured the essence of the bar, just as the CDs had caught its mood.
Today, the popularity of the Blue Bar continues lead by its quest to innovate and be at the forefront of the ever-popular drinks scene. Lockdown in March 2020 saw the Blue Bar close for the first time, and the ever enterprising team set about bottling their signature cocktails and taking to the road on Blue Bar bikes. The bikes were complete with wicker baskets equipped with tools of the trade and ingredients, and saw the team arrive on doorsteps ready to mix the lucky households favourite Blue Bar cocktail.
2019 saw the team unveil the Meta Menu - an eclectic list of drinks designed to allow guests to make their drink order both speedy and experiential. The menu promptly won industry heavyweight Imbibe’s Best Drinks List of the Year award. The second volume was launched post lockdown showcasing drinks such as ‘Queen of Sussex’ and ‘The Notorious’, and has again been shortlisted for this distinguished award.
When the Blue Bar celebrated its 10 year anniversary, a whisky cocktail with caramel notes was created and called the BB10. Following in this tradition, the Blue Bar now unveils the BB20. This is a fruity and floral concoction featuring vodka, jasmine, peach and lime. To mark this landmark birthday, the BB20 is bottled in limited edition batches to purchase directly from the hotel. It is served in the Blue Bar straight, on the rocks, with soda for a refreshing twist, or – for true celebration – topped with champagne. Every guest who visits the Blue Bar will be welcomed with a taster of this anniversary drink for the birthday month.
Raffaele di Monaco, from the Blue Bar says ‘It’s been an honour and a privilege to be at the helm of the Blue Bar for this landmark in its history. It is our goal to continue to lead the way.’