The Pinnacle Guide

THE AMERICAN BAR AT GLENEAGLES

Auchterarder, UK

Gleneagles’ smallest bar is a rather glamorous ode to the 1920s, heather-hued to match the landscape and with an innovative take on using otherwise discarded produce from across the hotel.

gleneagles.com
@thegleneagleshotel
Smart dress required

No Reservations 
Walk-ins only
Accessible venue

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

AREAS OF EXCELLENCE

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ENVIRONMENTAL ENDEAVOURS

The American Bar’s menu predominantly features drinks that require coordination with the rest of the hotel, using secondary ingredients that would otherwise be discarded, for example the blueberry muffins left over from the breakfast buffet or spent coffee grounds. In an effort to further this endeavour beyond ingredients, they have developed a glassware repair program, where the team use a belt sander to repair glasses that have minor chips or damage, allowing them to look brand new, giving them a new lease of life.

DETAILS OF NOTE

This is a bar rich in details, from the hand-cut fluted crystal collection designed by Richard Brendon to the Scottish heather-dyed cashmere that wraps the panelled walls of the bar. Original fireplaces have been restored to their former glory in lilac marble, topped with custom-made brass mirrors and if guests look up they’ll see multi-layered glass bespoke chandeliers overhead.

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Tucked inside the very famous Gleneagles Hotel is The American Bar, split between four small rooms that offer guests either an intimate retreat from society or a lively view of the bar as cocktails are shaken, stirred and whisked away to waiting tables. Despite finding its home in an iconic country estate, The American Bar can only be described as old world glamour. There are art deco touches from the 1920s everywhere for guests to admire, from the etched glass and mirrored back bar in its unique hexagonal column shelving to stained-glass internal windows and the purple velvet banquettes placed alongside tailored leather button-detail chairs. Regardless of personal taste, it’s hard not to be impressed with the level of detail here.

That level of detail extends to the menu itself, a clothbound book presented in two different colours. The main menu takes a detailed approach – and for each drink there is the story of the ingredients, the techniques used, an illustration, glassware details and an extensive glossary at the back to explain any complex or unusual terms. Thoughtfully though, they also offer a ‘Too Long Didn’t Read’ option for those who would just like to order a drink. 

While the bar may be opulent, the style of cocktails found at The American Bar is far more grounded – in fact they take direct inspiration from the lush Ochil Hills that surround Gleneagles. Thanks to its smaller size than other venues in the large hotel, it’s able to work with small local producers for their fresh produce, making its drinks and experience very bespoke. In fact the team enjoy the ability to be more bold in the techniques and styles of drink than their colleagues across the hotel, and to pay homage to ingredients found on their doorstep. The team are also very reliant on the discarded produce from other outlets within the hotel – 80% of their non-spirit ingredients are house made and come from the hotel’s own ecosystem – and so they work very closely with the culinary team. 

The full team is involved in menu creation – and once a concept is decided, everyone is given the freedom to come up with ideas. Barbacks and waiters who are keen to be involved are paired with a manager or bartender for extra guidance and support, and everyone works together on feedback and development before arriving at the final outcome. 

Guests might be interested to try one or more of the bar’s collaboratively-made spirits. To delve into the iconic Martini, the team worked with Edinburgh’s South Loch Distillery to develop three mono-botanical gins to show how different juniper types can impact the taste of this classic. On the aged spirit side, and to bolster their already large list of whiskies – this is Scotland after all – The American Bar went a step further and worked with local distillery Glenturret, to develop a whisky that they felt represented the bar’s ethos of warm welcomes, lively gatherings, and happy memories.

This dedication to the finer details is evident beyond the drinks with staff operating at a five-star luxury level of service. This comes with a caveat however; the bar has a loose dress code that encourages guests to look nice, or at least not look like they’ve been rambling the countryside before coming in for a cocktail. As every evening at The American Bar is a finessed experience, guests will find its atmosphere is largely consistent – think smooth jazz, simmering conversations, muted warm lighting and the sound of ice cracking in a shaker. 

Staff are very important to Gleneagles, and training is taken seriously – WSET Level 3 is a minimum requirement for every senior bartender at The American Bar and is fully paid for by the hotel. Staff wellness is a priority, and all staff have free 24/7 access to a newly-renovated staff gym, are given golf membership to the famous course at a significantly reduced rate and are provided extra leave for fertility treatments, mental health support and more. They have recently launched their own Menopause Café – an employee support group that meets regularly – and the hotel is an active supporter of Andy’s Man Club suicide prevention charity. 

“It seemed to me that everything was in perfect alignment. The music, lighting and general ambience was welcoming and warm. I could have a conversation very easily, had no need for my phone light to read the menu and at no point did I worry about anything that was happening outside of the bar.”

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