It must be a sign of age but I'm increasingly uneasy hanging around youngsters on a night out. It's probably because I've been there, done that and made the same "mistakes" already. They were awful the first time so I’d would rather not relive them (not even vicariously).
Perhaps that’s why I found myself propped up the bar at The Goring Hotel last week. I’d never visited before; it doesn’t shout all that loud on the hotel bar circuit but then I suppose it’s so famous it doesn’t need to.
The crowd outside was mostly young, but inside was a mixture of ages, with quite a few elderly married couples who were sharply dressed. I associate this delightful effort with French and Italian men and women of a certain age. Besides, Goring guests play by the same rules.
The hotel has just turned its small terrace, which overlooks its large private garden, into an alpine Ski Bar. The story goes that this is following the unearthing of a couple of photos by Jeremy Goring – the fourth member of his family to run the hotel – of his great-grandfather and grandfather on the slopes of St Moritz.
I'm not a keen skier so can't attest to its authenticity, but the terrace's powerful heaters mean it’s warm enough to sit comfortably outside. The cashmere rugs and sheepskins help, but, if that's not enough, order a glass of the Glühwein (mulled wine).
The terrace cocktail list is reassuringly limited with just four options (though you can also order off the main list). The recipes were given to them by Andrea Delvo of Badrutt’s Palace in St Moritz. In addition to the excellent Glühwein, you can order the San Moritzino, Bellini or Suisesse.
The San Moritzino is an appealing mix of vodka, Cointreau, almond syrup and lemon juice. And the Bellini is obviously a classic – in this case, the peach purée is mixed with Ayala Champagne. But the Suisesse is something special.
The Suisesse is a delicious shake of Absinthe Green Velvet 340, Orzata Fabbri almond syrup, lemon juice, egg white and sugar. It's the first time I've tried the combination of anise-flavoured absinthe and almond and it's a revelation. The Suisesse is dangerously tasty, but the terrace is only open between 6pm and 9pm so you won't be able to do too much damage.
The service is familial, the air is scented with pine and jazz pays gently. Maybe I had one too many Suisesses, but there is something special about The Goring this gentle oasis that merits a return visit.