225 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills
A secret bar in the swanky Montage Hotel that you need a secret code to get into. Specialising in the world's most precious whisky, The Macallan single malt, the small and intimate bar is dark, cosy and stylishly discreet. Think mahogany walls and marble tables and buttery leather sofas. Bartender Cash Black escorts you from the lower level and takes you up winding stairs into the private enclave of the bar, before taking you through the bar's extensive menu of cocktails.
The view: Sitting out on the veranda on a warm Californian evening, overlooking a stone balustrade and out at the hotel's artfully manicured Beverly Canon Gardens.
The chat: When I arrive, it's only myself and a couple. Cash is knowledgeable, friendly and welcoming, and goes through the cocktail list in a helpful, unpretentious way.
The drink: I opt for the Tom's Manhattan, a classic and one of Cash's personal favourites featuring a combination of Michter's bourbon, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters. "It was my dad's favourite drink, and he was my hero," says Cash. It arrives in an elegant Lalique crystal martini glass and is the kind of drink you want to enjoy slowly.
This is a place for serious whiskey and spirit connoisseurs. You have a choice of a hand-crafted cocktail or selecting from its range of spirits, including gin, cognac, vodka and rum. There's an extensive range of rare Macallan whiskys – a dram of 40-year-old sherry oak, for example, costs US$1260 ($1900); and you can choose from a list of chilling options, from a Scottish Highlands water sphere to whisky stones.
The expectation: The bar's name refers to Scottish 10 pound notes, once printed with an image of Macallan's stills. Looking at the bar's website beforehand, I did get the sense it was going to have a decadent, old-world elegance.
The reality: Super-plush. The bar is for a special night out and I recommend a cocktail or two before heading downstairs to the wonderful Gilles restaurant run by Michelin-starred chef Gilles Epie. Be prepared for good old-fashioned service from Cash, and terrific bar snacks to accompany your drink and bring out the flavours – aged cheddar, maple-roasted bacon and candied pecans. You'll want to sink into the plush armchairs and watch the Californian sunset while savouring every last drop of what is surely one of the best drinks you'll ever have. Bookings essential.
- Dan Ahwa