Designed for drinking: London Fashion Week

More than 5,000 people will be descending on the catwalks of London this month for London Fashion Week, and bartenders have been designing their own collections – for drinking rather than wearing. From The Roof Gardens in Kensington to 45 Park Lane, they have drawn inspiration from fashion designers to create unique new cocktails.

At Babylon Restaurant at The Roof Gardens, the bar team have come up with a special menu for London Fashion Week from September 14 to 18. Described as “decadent treats”, the cocktails have been designed to reflect the “creativity and drama” on the catwalks. The Drambuie Vuitton, is a glamorous mix of Drambuie, fresh mint and honey, topped up with champagne, while the Dolce and Banana is a modern take on a banana Daiquiri, topped with a foam and finished with a banana brûlée crisp. The Mai Armani Tai (pictured above) – a playful pun on “my Armani tie” – is a twist on the classic Mai Tai, with the addition of orange cognac liqueur.

All the drinks are served in gilded glassware with sparkling gold sprayed garnishes. Max Butterfield, assistant bars manager at Babylon, says: “London Fashion Week is a fantastic opportunity for us to model some designer-based drinks and play around with some avant-garde presentation techniques.”

Black Velvet at 45 Park LaneThe Dorchester Collection, which operates top hotels around the world including The Dorchester in London, has built on its links with the fashion world by creating an annual Fashion Prize to celebrate emerging fashion talent. This year, its five shortlisted designers have inspired bartenders at the group’s hotels to come up with a special cocktail list which is available from September 6 to October 3, which covers not just London Fashion Week but also Paris Fashion Week that follows it. The drinks will be available in the bar at 45 Park Lane in London, Hôtel Plaza Athénée and Le Meurice in Paris, at the Hotel Principe Di Savoia in Milan and at Le Richemond in Geneva.

Annelie Augustin and Odély Teboul joined forces with Stefano Cossio of Bar 45 at 45 Park Lane to create Black Velvet (pictured above), a tequila-based cocktail with blackberries, thyme honey, crème de cassis and lime juice, indicative of the designers’ sophisticated and dark designs. Inspired by Calla Haynes’ colourful collection, Daniele Confalonieri of Hotel Principe di Savoia mixed the Milanese Calla-pirinha – an orange-coloured cocktail with a cinnamon stick, a sprinkle of saffron, white crushed ice and limes to add a touch of green.

Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize cocktails
Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize cocktails
The experimental design style of IRM Design led Thierry Hernandez of Le Bar at Hôtel Plaza Athénée to conceive the IRM Cocktail composed of three shots of rum, sake and vodka, presented with three different pipettes containing iris, rose, and mint essences, making up the abbreviation “IRM”. With the simplicity of the alcoholic base, the pipettes add colour to mirror the running paint effect used by IRM Design.

With a collection evoking the Prohibition era of the 1920s, designer Quentin Veron paired up with Le Richemond’s bar team to devise Black Southside. This gin-based cocktail with blackberries and cherry syrup aims to take guests back to American speakeasy bars. Emphasising the recurrence of black within their electrifying collection, Les Garcons’ Louis Gerin and Gregory Lamaud collaborated with Le Meurice’s William Oliveri and created Nuit Noire, a blueberry vodka-based drink with blackberry liqueur.

Good Godfrey's macaroonsBack in London, Good Godfrey’s bar at the Waldorf Hilton is offering a colourful collection of free macaroons with drinks at the bar to tie in with London Fashion Week. They are inspired by this season’s top fashion shades from the catwalk.

But London Fashion Week is not just about cocktails. The Otley Brewing Company in Wales is hosting its own bar at the launch party for designer Eley Kishimoto. It will showcase two of the company’s ales: the German-style 07 Weissen and the Thai green curry-flavoured Thai-Bo. The brewery’s unusual ales and unique branding mean it not only appeals to beer enthusiasts but also to a wider audience of younger, female drinkers.

“The beer industry is changing in a big way and for us to be hosting our own bar at London Fashion Week is a real sign of how beer is appealing to a young, trendy and more female audience,” says Nick Otley, managing director of the Otley Brewing Company. “At Otley, we’ve worked hard to establish ourselves as a unique, contemporary brand which aims to transform the traditional image of beer drinkers.”

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