Behind the Bar Snap Shot

In London, a History Lesson with a Side of Cocktails

You are never really drinking alone when you settle in for a cocktail at the bar at Zetter Townhouse Marylebone on Seymour Street in London.

Seymour’s Parlor Bar, located in a Georgian townhouse-turned-hotel, was intentionally designed to feel like a private home of an eccentric relative. To amplify the effect, consultant Tony Conigliaro and bar manager Claudio Perinelli created a fictional character, “Wicked Uncle Seymour,” whose personality is woven into the bar’s atmosphere and drinks. (The duo also employed a similar method at sibling bar Zetter Clerkenwell, where “Great Aunt Wilhelmina’s” life unfolds).

Conigliaro and Perinelli imagined Uncle Seymour as a live wire—a generous, extravagant ladies’ man who spent time in 18th Century gambling parlors and drinking dens of both the upper and lower classes. Seymour’s Parlor is their homage to the types of places where dear old Uncle might have spent time.

Cocktails of an Era

The dozen innovative cocktails on Seymour’s menu are meant to evoke different aspects of Seymour’s fictional life and the drinking dens and dressing habits of the era.

The bar pays homage to radical working class writer and newspaperman, William Cobbett, who lived and worked in the U.K. in the late 1760s through the early 1800s. Cobbett was a fan of porter beer, and the rye whiskey cocktail Seymour’s created in his honor contains three different kinds of powered malts and treacle and is served from a siphon into a scratched glass, as was tradition for porter in Cobbett’s time. The drink is called the “Two-Penny Trash,” a nickname given Cobbett’s newspaper.

In honor of the tony Paris brothel Le Sphinx, a favorite of the well-heeled gentlemen of the era, the bar serves a neroli, honey and Champagne cocktail. A darker part of the era is reflected in The Rake, a cocktail based on the story of Thomas Rakewell, as illustrated in a series of six paintings by William Hogarth, called A Rake’s Progress. The paintings depict ladies with black spots on their faces, an indication of syphilis, caked over with makeup. The Rake Cocktail uses orris, the rootstock of the iris flower, to recreate the smell of face power and a mix of juniper and grapefruit oils to create floating black spots in the Beefeater Gin-based drink.

At Seymour’s Parlor, you can sip your way through Seymour’s world, and get a history lesson at the same time.

Seymour’s Parlor

28-30 Seymour Street, London W1H 7JB

Phone: 020 7324 4544