HOSPITALITY: The bar which serves £24 Martinis and has been voted the best in the world

Do you remember? From left, Joe Muldoon, John Bud O’Neill, Wattie Cullen, Joe Gilmartin, John McAllister, two don’t recalls, and Joe McHugh. Front three – Jimmy McIntyre, Ronnie Tiger Shaw and Robert Junior Deigman. That’s a Bible John on the poster on the wall behind.

NOTEBOOK by BILL HEANEY

It’s a long way on the train from McCafferty’s pub in The Vennel to London’s West End , but we thought we would take this opportunity to name Hughie’s as the best bar in the world in the run-up to Christmas.

Well, it was, was it not? Even before he called time up for good and the place metamorphosed into an Indian restaurant.

I remember the days (well, some of them anyway) when we had a session or ten at “the deep end” near the door of the Railway Tavern lounge bar. There was also the unforgettable public bar and its worthies, who were equally unforgettable.

There were all sorts frequenting that place, Cliff Richard even.  Councillors, MPs, printers and painters and joiners and journalists, mostly drinking quarter gills of Scotch whisky and pints of stout, a combination – or should that be a cocktail? – of so-called “boilermakers”, which was the name given to these  haufs and beers by the men who worked in Denny’s or John Brown’s. Or maybe even Singer’s. Or Singerzizz as the vernacular has it.

There could be as many as seven or eight patrons ordering  a round of drinks. Crisps and nuts were for Cissies or big Jessie’s. A round  might be eight haufs and eight beers. Real men don’t eat crisps.

However, the state of the Dumbarton pub trade in days gone by came to mind when I read the following in a licensing trade magazine:

A bar in Mayfair has been voted the best in the world for the second year running as part of The World’s 50 Best Bars annual list.

The Connaught Bar, known for its martinis, was recognised as an establishment where ‘excellence has become a bare minimum standard’.

It’s definitely a place of luxury, just like the Horse Shoe bar in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin where my good friend Sean Boyd, pictured here, was head barman for many years and wrote a book about his experiences there and the people he met there, from presidents to pop stars..

Award-winning designer David Collins, known for his glamorous touch, gave the interior a 1920s feel when designing the décor.

The bar runs a classic martini trolley service where drinks are mixed table-side.

But as you might expect this luxury comes at a cost, with the famous Connaught Martini costing £24.

The cheapest alcoholic cocktail on the sample menu is £20.

Customers can also snack on caviar whilst they wait, or opt for a pizza or sandwich.

These aren’t just any pizzas and sandwiches though: the most expensive sandwich is a Sakura Wagyu Beef Sandwich for £68.

The World’s 50 Best Bars is an annual list first published in 2009 that ranks bars as voted by 600 drinks experts across the globe.

There are no greater experts than those propping up the bars in Dumbarton.

The website calls The Connaught Bar ‘a triumph from the start’ that ‘still manages to edge closer to perfection every time its doors open’.

It says ‘it is the quintessential London hotel bar’.

The Connaught Bar does not accept reservations and is open Monday to Wednesday 4pm – 1am and Thursday to Saturday 3pm – 1am.

Another of my old haunts when I used to imagine myself drinking and smoking along with Peter O’Toole and Richard Harris, as one of life’s hell-raisers, was The Glencairn.  Tom Harrison’s Glencairn on The Bridge.

A young hack dressed in a crumpled trench coat and wearing a pushed back Bogart-type hat picking up the gossip from the council chambers across the road in College Park Street.

Young people today talk of going out for a “right good swally”, and the weeks before Christmas and New Year were the time for that, for wishing folk all the best as yet another year passed.

I was told once by a local man that he spilt more booze on his tie than I or any others ever did when we threw a few drinks over our parched throats.

This year, however, I think I’ll pass on the festive fun. The Ghost of Christmas hangovers past will see to that.

My intention is to sit back and relax around the Christmas tree with glass of something nice. Something like American Cream Soda or Dandelion and Burdoch perhaps, but they have disappeared with the men who have gone before.

Who knows whether my resolve will last until Hogmanay? So, here’s tae us, wha’s like us, no’ many. And they’re a’ deid. Or nearly deid from an unforgettable night out at McCafferty’s.

McCafferty’s public bar with Alex Scott and Saul Docherty and (extreme right) John McAllister and fellow topers on the other side of the mahogany.

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