From luxurious rooftop bars to vending machines, Waldorf Astoria resorts can make any guest’s occasion special with a glass of bubbly no matter where they are or what time of day it is.
Waldorf Astoria hotels have always had a strong bar presence. Peacock Alley and Bull & Bear boast international name recognition. There’s even an official Waldorf Astoria Bar Book, recently updated since its first release in 1935, when the Champagne Cocktail was the most popular drink of the day.
Turns out, not much as has changed: “Pour the sugar cube in a coupe glass. Add angostura on it. Pour the Pierre Ferrand in the glass and top up with champagne Billecart. Garnish with a cherry.”
That’s the recipe for the modern version of the Champagne Cocktail at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, known for its trifecta of stylish bars: Peacock Alley, Bull & Bear and The Loft, a New York-style cocktail bar. Then, on August 30th of last year, it popped a cork and opened The Champagne Bar on the 57th floor.
Billecart-Salmon is the featured champagne served as the house pour at the intimate 34-seat bar, which is accessed via a dramatic marble staircase once the elevator reaches its final stop on the 56th floor.
In addition to Billecart-Salmon’s famous and coveted rosé expression, the bar carries a beautiful collection of Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Premier and Grand Crus, such as Bruno Paillard and Agrapart.
The Champagne Bar was jointly conceived by the Waldorf hotel team and Avro KO, a vaunted hospitality-industry interior designer based in New York.
“It’s our jewel in the crown, a super-luxurious speakeasy.” – Phatrarika Phatraprasit, Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
“It’s our jewel in the crown, a super-luxurious speakeasy,” says Phatrarika Phatraprasit, commercial director of Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. “We wanted to introduce something that is premium and the best of its kind, which resulted in a beautiful collection of Champagne. It’s a perfect place for a treat or to celebrate a special occasion.”
She describes the space as a “millionaire friend’s living room,” filled with big comfortable couches, art pieces and glass cabinets with expensive whiskey on display. And, of course, lots and lots of Champagne.
UPPING THEIR BUBBLY GAME
Bangkok isn’t the only Waldorf Astoria to have mastered its bubbly game.
From Las Vegas to Orlando, Edinburgh to Shanghai, you don’t have to look very far to find a glass or bottle of the world’s most famous sparkling wine. Champagne flows freely out of the hotels’ bars and restaurants. It’s served at brunch and afternoon tea, with eggs and with chocolate. It even rolls out of machines.
The latter service can be found on the 23rd floor Sky Lobby at Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas.
VEND FOR YOURSELF
The “Killer Queen” of Queen’s 1970s pop hit may have kept her Moët & Chandon “in her pretty cabinet,” but in Vegas, it’s kept in a vending machine. Yes, a vending machine—the same sort of convenience that typically dispenses Pepsi and potato chips.
This Moët & Chandon instant-delivery system is the only such gizmo in Las Vegas and one of just a few in the United States.
This is the way it works: You purchase a special gold Moët coin at the front desk for $25 and are then escorted to the machine, where you slide the disc in a slot, and out comes a mini-bottle of Imperial Brut or Imperial Rosé, cold as you please.
After one round, it’ll be hard to go back to the Snapple machine. Moët & Chandon does not enjoy a monopoly on the bubbly biz at Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas.
Veuve Clicquot will soon create its own themed cabana at the resort’s 8th floor pool deck. The ancient Champagne house is expected to unveil the exclusive poolside service in the coming months.
There are also bottles of champers to be had at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire and Sky Bar, both located on the 23rd floor, and at the Tea Lounge, where guests who like their tea served with a Champagne chaser will be happily accommodated.
Afternoon tea is, unsurprisingly, also a big thing at Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian.
At the hotel’s Peacock Alley, a Champagne Afternoon Tea is offered, where a meal of dainty cucumber, smoked salmon and Coronation chicken sandwiches, as well as various cakes and scones, can be paired with some Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut.
If the Grand Brut isn’t your cup of tea (as it were), you can upgrade to Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé, Belle Époque 2011, Belle Époque Rosé 2006 or selections from Laurent-Perrier, Dom Pérignon Brut or Louis Roederer.
The combination of wine and small bites isn’t as odd as you might think.
“All the cakes and pastries are very sweet,” says Catherine Jackson, senior marketing executive at The Caledonian, “so Champagne helps to soften the sweetness and cleanse the palate.”
If the prospect of afternoon tea feels a little staid, The Caledonian has a surefire method to stir your senses.
A number of members of the Peacock Alley team are skilled in the art of sabrage — that is, opening a bottle of Champagne with an actual sabre. (Because who has time to untwist that metal cork cage when you’re dying of thirst?)
How does a waiter or sommelier acquire such a talent? Well, of course, with help from representatives from the Confrérie du Sabre d’Or, a French organization established in 1986, with a UK branch established in 1999.
While some may find excitement in Champagnes wordplay, others prefer a marriage of a more sweet-natured variety, such as Champagne and chocolate. For those, there is the Bar du Chocolat, located in the Peacock Alley at Waldorf Astoria Orlando.
The bar-within-a-bar is only available during special occasions and holidays. It’s designed for guests who want to end a visit to the hotel’s La Luce and Bull & Bear restaurants with a sugary nightcap.
The Bar du Chocolat showcases the talents of the hotel’s pastry team. Various chocolate confections are paired with specific Champagnes, which are served by the glass.
Ninety percent of the dessert choices on the menu are chocolate based, but there are a few options for those who don’t like chocolate—though we can’t imagine who those people might be.
“This experience is very popular with families that are coming back to the resort after a day in the parks,” says Nicole Arenas, marketing manager at Waldorf Astoria Orlando. “One of my favorite things to suggest to guests who have a guest room with a balcony and a Disney view is to take their dessert to their room and enjoy it while watching the nightly Disney fireworks.”
“One of my favorite things to suggest to guests who have a guest room with a balcony and a Disney view is to take their dessert to their room and enjoy it while watching the nightly Disney fireworks.” – Nicole Arenas, Waldorf Astoria Orlando
BEST OF THE REST
In contrast to Orlando, where you can end your evening with Champagne, you can begin your day with bubbles at Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund.
There, the Grand Brasserie has offered a Champagne Brunch since the hotel first opened in 2011. Fluffy lobster omelets, hearty Eggs Benedict Florentine and Frittatas Calabrese can float to your table on a river of Perrier-Jouët, should you wish.
In addition to serving Laurent-Perrier Cuvée and Cuvée Rosé by the glass, the bar also carries vintage and non-vintage bottlings by Bollinger, Krug, Henri Billiot, Veuve Clicquot, Gaston Chiquet, G.H. Mumm, Pol Roger and Taittinger.
With that many bottles of bubbly on hand, the Wright Bar could, with complete justification, rechristen itself the Champagne Bar — if Waldorf Astoria Bangkok hadn’t already beaten them to it.
Robert Simonson is a Brooklyn-based writer who specializes in cocktails. A frequent contributor to the New York Times and Punch, Simonson has published the books “3-Ingredient Cocktails,” “A Proper Drink” and “The Old-Fashioned.”
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