Restaurants & Bars | July 22, 2021 12:38 pm

The Acclaimed American Bar in London Finally Gets an American to Run the Drinks Program

Shannon Tebay of Death & Co. in New York will serve as head bartender at this London institution

A barman mixes a cocktail in the American Bar in The Savoy Hotel in London, following a 3 year restoration of the hotel. For the first time, an American will run the bar
Opened in 1893, the American Bar in London now has an actual American running the cocktail program
Clive Gee/PA Images via Getty Images

With a name like American Bar, you’d think the lead bartender would hail from, well, America.

Until today, that wasn’t the case at this acclaimed London hotel bar, currently ranked as the 20th best bar in the world and a one-time world’s best bar winner (2017). But now Shannon Tebay, the head bartender at New York’s Death & Co., will head up the cocktail program.

“This time around they were looking for an American perspective,” as Tebay told the New York Times. “To have that authentic perspective on what we’re doing on this side of the pond was important to them.” As well, she should bring some interesting new ideas from her time at D&C, a bar that’s been extremely ambitious and willing to transform over the past few years, particularly during COVID-19.

Tebay will also only be the second woman to serve as head bartender at The American Bar, which launched in 1893 as a place to enjoy “American-style drinks” in the Savoy Hotel; it’s the longest-surviving cocktail bar in the UK, according to the The World’s 50 Best Bars. The first woman there with the head bartender title, Ada Coleman, has been credited as the creator of the Hanky Panky, a 50/50 cocktail with gin and sweet vermouth (and a splash of fernet).

The bar is currently closed but will reopen soon on a walk-in basis around September. Before then, Tebay plans on making a few changes. “I want to diversify the staff as much as possible,” she tells the Times. “It is the responsibility of hospitality leaders to make positive changes in our industry.”

Before closing, the bar was featuring a menu inspired by musicians and songwriters who played or frequented the bar, including cocktails that riffed on the works of Frank and Nancy Sinatra, George Harrison and Prince (Electric Lover, the first cocktail you may ever try that has glitter).