Some years ago, I wrote a piece entitled "In Praise of Hotel Bars" in which I endeavoured to identify those distinctive qualities that made a good hotel bar so enjoyable - apart, that is, from being a reliable source of alcohol. The answer, I concluded, lay in two particular characteristics: anonymity and variety. You can spend an evening in a hotel bar - as compared with a local or community bar - without anyone knowing your identity (unless you wished otherwise, or you are a "celeb"); and you can reasonably expect to find a ready supply of replacements for whoever you'd bored into near-extinction the previous night.
After a further period of extensive and diligent participant observation, I still hold to this assessment, but to it I would like to add a third quality. In place of tasteless draft beers and "classic" mixes, the better hotel bar now offers a range of craft ales, imaginative wines and innovative cocktails that add a new dimension -in terms of outturn and experience - to the image of the tired, old hotel bar.
So far, so good. But there is a "but", I'm afraid. The other evening I overheard a conversation between two F&B Managers (one Marriott, the other Radisson, I think) which ended with the two participants in complete agreement that this new model could never catch on because: a) "Head Office" would never agree to the additional, upfront expenditure involved; b) most hotels couldn't or wouldn't enhance the skills levels of bar staff; and c) centralised suppliers would be loathe to source the new products required.
With spirits a little dampened, I retired for the evening, but the enticing prospect still beckons. And on that note,
Best wishes to you all for a safe and successful 2 017