Friday, February 01, 2008

All Smiles at The Writers Bar at Raffles L’Ermitage Hotel

I can’t tell you how ‘over it’ I am with battling the 101 into downtown then wind up paying double digits for a quality cocktail served by a guy who thinks he’s too cool to crack a smile. Or, schlep around in traffic only to have a rude bouncer or ‘lady with a clipboard’ bark orders as I enter a trendy spot in Hollywood. And, let’s not forget that Beverly Hills has practically built its reputation on the well-coiffed-yet-unsophisticated help competing to out-‘tude the clientele.

So, as I climbed the steps into the lobby of the five-star Raffles Hotel in the heart of that infamous zip code (and only Raffles in North America), I hoped for the best but braced myself for the worst. Given that I’m in the midst of writing my first book, the time had come to see how it felt to stroll into The Writers Bar with my lil’ MacBook tucked under my arm, fling my trench coat over a chair (as the sky threatened rain) and take a seat in the swanky lounge. With delight, I can say that it felt good. Very good.

Elegant and serene, cozy and sophisticated, The Writers Bar is smack-dab in the midst of everything… but feels a million miles away. I don’t think a single member of the staff walked by without sharing a pleasant word or showing a friendly face. And, the framed scripts gracing the wall inspire and excite film enthusiasts.

The place ain’t cheap but frankly, I don’t mind shelling out for a luxuriously pleasant environment. A glass of champagne ranges from $14 (Domaine Carneros) to $50 (Dom Perrignon). Cocktails start at $16 for the Clemetine Cocktail (vodka, oj, ginger and Clementine) and soar to $50 for a Platinum Margarita. Complimentary wasabi peas and an assortment of nuts are brought to each table, and appetizers such as truffle fries ($14), pizza-style flat breads ($20) and sushi (around $30) can be had for those with rumbling tummies.

(Mixology Sidebar: The classic "Singapore Sling" was created at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.)

Something that celebrities must love about The Writers Bar is the obvious lack of paparazzi. (Eat your hearts out Four Seasons and Chateau Marmont!) I practically bumped into Dave Chappelle chatting on his cell phone, and later spotted a nearly 7-foot tall Laker ordering a cognac. Both seemed as at ease as if they were in their own living room.

Cameras are strictly frowned upon, which is why I don’t have a photo of my delicious Sunsation Cocktail or Bruce the bartender who whipped it up for me, but that’s a small price to pay to uphold the right kind of ambiance. However, L’Ermitage’s new Food and Beverage Director, Albert Charbonneau (who ‘shook and stirred’ at former L.A. landmark L'Orangerie and the Paris Casino in Las Vegas, early in his career) created the drink. He is kind enough to share this recipe – his twist on a “Sunsplash” - with The Liquid Muse readers:

1 1/2 oz Belvedere Pomarancza
1/2 oz Patron Citronge

2 oz Orange Juice

2 oz Pomegranate Juice

1 oz Sweetened Fresh Lemon and Lime Juice

Served on the rocks and garnish with lemon slice, lime slice and orchid flower.

On warmer days, the intimate patio just off the lounge is perfect for canoodling or power-lunching. For those wanting to really fly under the radar, arrange for meals in the private dining room, adjacent to the 10-table restaurant, which is serviced by its own private elevator. (Any wonder why this spot is a favorite with celebs during award season?)

So, here’s my rundown on The Writers Bar: The prices are a bit steep, so those writers marching in picket lines may want to hold off until their paychecks are reinstated. That said, an exceptional experience in a comfortably easy-yet-glamorous atmosphere is worth a few extra pennies. And, a high-end hotel bar that remembers why the word “hospitality” is key to its industry is, in a word, priceless.


wlink said...
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wlink said...

he writer's bar has changed. at last that awful guy bruce has gone. In his place - the most gorgeous, beautiful actress Annie has replaced him. She is probably the most beautiful person you have ever seen and best of all charming with it. I'm British. If only English girls were like Annie. Think Renee Zelwegger but younger and more beautiful. Possibly she will be the saviour of L'ermitage and what a story. The only downside she is married but don't let that get in your way. She is a superstar. When you next go in just ask for Annie. And let's get the world talking about her. DY