Reviewed: The brand-new cocktail menu at the Donovan Bar

The new drinks list at London’s oldest hotel is inspired by the magical storytelling of childhood

Food and Drink 26 Jun 2024

Head in the Clouds cocktail served in a smoking golden egg

Head in the Clouds, featuring Patrón Silver, Green Chartreuse, Benedictine D. O. M., Kiwi, Pea

Fairytales and cocktails both offer a delightful escape from the mundane. This is the connection The Donovan Bar at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair aims to capture with its new cocktail menu.

The “Happily Ever After” list follows previous themed offerings “Evoke” and “Once Upon a Time”, which celebrated the personalities connected to Brown’s Hotel, earning it accolades such as Best Bar at the Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards 2018 and a place on The World’s 50 Best Bars list.

The Donovan Bar interior
The Donovan Bar (photo: Janos Grapow)

Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book and other fantastical tales, often frequented Brown’s Hotel, which opened in the 1830s. “Happily Ever After” draws from classics from all over children’s literature, including Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. Industry legends Salvatore Calabrese and Federico Pavan have meticulously crafted a series of cocktails that are as visually creative as they are delicious.

Director of Mixology Federico Pavan
Director of Mixology Federico Pavan (photo: John Carey)

‘Before we construct a drink, we ask ourselves what we want to create and why,’ says Calabrese, aka “The Maestro”, who is a consultant on this project. ‘You pick up a dream, and then you make it a reality. So, the inspiration is from any fairytale that we encounter, and we draw on the core of that inspiration.’

Take, for instance, the Peter Punch. Constructed from Altos tequila blanco, Casamigos mezcal, Americano Cocchi Rosa, dragon fruit and guava, this light and effervescent cocktail takes inspiration from the sprightly Pan and provides just the right amount of liquid pixie dust to help you fly away to Neverland.

Whizzpop cocktail
Whizzpop, featuring Tanqueray No. 10, Amaro Santoni, Rinomato Aperitivo, Acqua Bianca, Mancino Rosso Amaranto, Raspberry

Another standout, Seven Apples, nods to Snow White’s diminutive cohorts and – rather than poisoning the orchard fruit, manipulates apples to construct seven different flavour profiles, reminiscent of these beloved characters’ seven distinct personalities.

Midnight Scandal cocktail in a glass slipper
Midnight Scandal

However, Brummell’s favourite is the Midnight Scandal. Not afraid of a little bit of theatre, this drink is presented in a pristine glass slipper, from which one sips an enchanting mix of Espolòn tequila, Ketel One vodka, Savoia Orancio, coconut, ginger beer and butternut squash – from the heel of the shoe.

‘We sometimes like to play with customers to help them escape reality. It’s fun to drink from an unusual vessel, such as Cinderella’s slipper or Jack’s golden egg,’ comments Pavan, director of mixology at The Donovan Bar. ‘When we think about creating a drink, we consider three sensory factors – visual, aroma and taste. You first choose a drink based on how it looks. We know not to judge a book by its cover, but if the cover is nice, you’re more likely to open the book.’

Happily Ever After launched on 28 May 2024. For bookings, visit