Celebrating its 120th birthday late last year, the Bristol has long distinguished itself as the grand dame of Polish hotels. Hosting a never-ending roll-call of A-list stars and celebs, it remains as relevant now as when it first opened. Hidden behind dark reflective glass from the outside, find Lane’s occupying a front wing in a space formerly used as the hotel’s wine bar. But much like the Bristol is more than a hotel, consider Lane’s as more than just a hotel bar. It’s more than that – it’s something truly special.
Designed by the London-based Sagrada group, you walk into Lane’s to learn the meaning of ‘love at first sight’. Soft on the eye, it’s peachy-pink colors exude a stylish warmth – think elegant and luxurious but in a way that’s subtle and discreet. Featuring no shortage of brass, glass, stone and satin, the floaty ambience is lent further oomph by a stunning geometric lighting installation that hangs over sofas that you may never want to leave. Perfectly proportioned, it’s intimate enough to feel like a private members club, and that sense of personalization peaks when seated at a bar that presents a motherlode of glimmering bottles set against a mosaic that gently riffs on the Bristol’s Art Nouveau and Art Deco spirit.
Heading the bar is Karol Rybicki, a premier league bartender whose two decades of international experience have seen him fix and mix for names like DiCaprio, Connery, Rihanna and Madonna. Yep, this guy’s the real deal. Not that this is by any means a one-man show. Headhunting staff based on both their skills and personality, Rybicki has assembled a tight team of maestros that will already be familiar to Warsaw’s cocktail afficionados.
Gin plays the hero role in Lane’s, and that’s reflected by way of a menu that takes you on a foxtrot through the world’s finest gins. Covering Scandinavia, start with Skål a drink fixed with Harahorn, cloudberry jam, lemon, Regan’s orange bitters, and a drop of Amol to lend a sharp, chilly blast to your sip. Equally impressive, the Auguri brings Italy to your placemat with its playful mix of Marcati, Campari, basil & thyme cordial, Cointreau foam and clarified tomato water. If there’s a star, mind you, we find it in the form of the Perfect Lady, an immaculate creation of Mombasa Club premium gin, crème de peche, lemon and egg white presented in an impossibly tall, handcrafted glass. “It’s our Insta sensation,” admits Rybicki.
Lane’s cocktail menu – which you download to your phone – is a comprehensive ride that leaves no stone unturned. Classics are ably represented, though for something out of this world look to the section titled Lane’s Luxuries; here, find a trio of cocktails with ingredients that merit the nosebleed prices. That’s all very well, but to feel like a real insider then ask for the Little Black Book, a semi-secret tome whose pages are in the process of being filled by recipes concocted between Rybicki and his regulars – and taking pride of place, none other than an entry by the best-selling author Szczepan Twardoch.
You’re right to expect something special on the food front. Mixing Japanese and South American influences, the offered Nikkei cuisine clicks in harmony with the drinks to present a multi-sensory bang every bit as dynamic and creative as the cocktails in front: executed with style and precision, that means the likes of skewers of grade five Wagyu beef; crunchy corn tacos filled with salmon; and tuna tataki with watermelon, physalis, compressed cucumber and red onion.
With cocktails starting in the low 40s, it’s likely you’ll be spending serious money in Lane’s – but such is the experience, it’s a fool that chooses to quantify it in material terms. Drinks are world class, as is the setting and service, and you leave feeling like you’ve enriched your life if only for a night. Warsaw has some truly exceptional cocktail bars, but you get the idea that Lane’s adds a new dimension to an already vibrant scene. More than merely brilliant, it’s something even better.
Lane’s Gin Bar
Krakowskie Przedmieście 42/44, website