Once a discreet private dining room for secret liaisons between Edward VII and his mistress Lillie Langtry, the first floor at Rules has served as the restaurant’s bar for over a decade. It chimes perfectly with the ultra-traditional, antique feel of the eatery below, with dark mahogany panels, velvet chaises longues and the kind of gold-and-red carpeting that belongs in a stately home.
Drinks mirror these heritage surrounds, with a short list of 12 classic cocktails, including the rather appropriate Old Fashioned, Sidecar, Sazerac and Americano, plus – in an alarming nod to modernity – Dick Bradsell’s 1980s icon, the Bramble (dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, crème de mûre and crushed ice).
An even shorter list of six house signatures ranges from the Maiden Mule (a refreshing mix of Star of Bombay Gin, Cocchi Americano, Aperol, apple, citrus and soda) to The Uncle Edward, laced with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, The Kings Ginger liqueur and peated Scotch mist.
A brief, mainly French wine selection is also on offer (you can also order bottles from the full restaurant wine list), while options on the bar menu (served 4pm-9pm) include Dorset crab on toast and tandoori-spiced quail. You don’t come here for the cutting-edge mixology, but well-crafted drinks and old-school service make Upstairs at Rules a dependable favourite with Londoners and tourists alike.