108 Marylebone Ln, Marylebone
London W1U 2QE
020 7969 3904
Want to see the still that Johnny Neill uses to make batches of Marylebone Gin? Head to 108 Bar in the Marylebone Hotel, where Isabella the copper still and a fabulous cocktail list await.
Refurbished in November 2014, just a few months later 108 Bar brought bar manager Din Jusufi on board to complete this watering hole’s reinvention. He got right to work.
He says, “During my first month we started redecorating the bar with cocktail ingredients, to offer our guests some transparency with regards to the drinks we make. Then we got the team together and started making a great new cocktail list to suit the venue.”
All of this was a concerted effort to make 108 Bar its own entity, and not just an extension of 108 Brasserie, the delicious restaurant next door. Now working under its own steam, 108 Bar is racking up acclaim and regulars.
“Everyone loves the fact that this is now a cocktail bar,” Din says, “and not just a dispense bar for the restaurant. Especially me – I’m always finding myself in antique shops, buying artisan equipment for the bar. My wife is always wondering where my money is going!”
Part of this bar’s strength is in its versatility. Stop in during the morning to sit with a coffee and watch Johnny Neill working hard at Isabella, or pop round in the evening for a masterfully mixed cocktail on the terrace.
“We aim to create a vibe that accommodates everyone at all times,” says Din. “Our open terrace gives our guest the option of choosing a refreshing drink in the sun or a quiet meal inside, and on Saturdays we have a DJ for a change of ambiance.”
But while the vibe is always in flux, one thing stays the same: the high standard of service.
Din explains: “We’re diligent in ensuring that there’s consistency in the standard of service, and we try to ensure that all members of staff get involved in all fields of service, whether it’s making a drink or serving it to a guest. This way everyone understands each other, and that leads to a better experience for the guest.”
When Din first came to 108 Bar, it was best known for its impressive whisky list. But cocktails – the Irish Old Fashioned is Din’s personal favourite – and an ever-expanding gin list have since taken centre stage.
“Our gin selection has come a long way,” Din says, “and we’re always up for checking out new and different bottles. Many of our guests come in looking for something different. This gives us the opportunity to present our selections and fine tune the choice to specifics for the guest.”
And soon, 108 Bar will have its very own brand of gin. They’re teaming up with Johnny to produce a bespoke gin, tailored specially for this central London spot.
Din says, “We’re super excited to announce that we’ll be distilling our own gin within the bar. We’re working together with Marylebone Gin to create a special product, ideal for our bar, and the still is here to see.”
To get a taste of 108’s mixology magic at home, whip up a signature Rhubarb Sour. “It’s very easy drinking,” Din says, “with a superb balance of citrus and sweet.”
Signature Cocktail: Rhubarb Sour
10ml lemon juice
15ml sugar syrup
3 dashes rhubarb bitters
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker packed with ice. Shake hard for thirty seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.