Mark Ludmon explores the impressive cocktail list from the new team at London’s Artesian bar
Only a month or so after the new team came on board at Artesian bar at The Langham in London, they presented their first menu. With the bar once rated top in the World’s 50 Best Bars, they have wasted no time in signalling their intentions to be at the top of their game.
The new list is headed “Cause, Effect & Classic Cocktails”, which reflects how they have set out to have us view well-known recipes in a different light. They have thought about the ingredients in a range of classic drinks and, taking into account elements such as provenance and maturation, they show how differences in the terroir of a lime or the roast of a coffee bean can cause a noticeable effect on the flavour.
“The age of the ingredients, where they are from and the environment can all affect the drink,” explains bar manager Anna Sebastian. “We are trying to bring this to life through engagement and story-telling. Some people come into the bar just wanting a drink but others want to have a bit more of an experience.”
Anna arrived at Artesian after seven years at The Savoy hotel in London, most recently as bar manager of its award-winning Beaufort Bar. At the same time, Rémy Savage (pictured above with Anna), previously at Little Red Door in Paris for four years, joined as head bartender alongside assistant head bartender Emilio Di Salvo, who was also at Little Red Door after starting his career in Bristol at bars such as Red Light and The Milk Thistle.
Emilio is behind the bar’s version of an Espresso Martini which has been created with coffee beans from three different stages of roasting: a house cordial made from vegetal unroasted beans, Grey Goose vodka infused with the more savoury medium roast and then a carbonated cold brew with a full heavy roast. With Martini Ambrato vermouth added, it is a perfect balance of maltiness, bitterness and sweetness, lightly golden in colour rather than the classic creamy blackness, served in a tall elegant Martini glass.
The Gimlet (pictured top) is another revelation that illustrates how provenance affects flavour. It is served in three small glasses set into a block of ice, made with Plymouth Navy Strength Gin and fresh lime juice. The twist is that, despite using the same recipe, each of the drinks tastes noticeably different simply from the use of limes from different countries, so the Mexican lime produces a slightly sweeter, smoother profile compared to the tarter Italian and Japanese limes.
Similarly, Rémy has transformed a simple Screwdriver by using three different types of orange juice, which has been centrifuged, slow-juiced and hand-squeezed to achieve the perfect consistency and sugar content, with the vodka replaced by Kappa Pisco. For the Bee’s Knees, flavours come through from the carefully sourced honey that has natural notes of juniper, lavender and citrus.
While the Corpse Reviver No 2 is the most common version of the classic found on menus, Artesian offers the rarer Corpse Reviver No 1 (pictured above), which was originally created in 1920s Paris by Frank Meyer. Artesian’s version features a 2010 vintage Barolo wine to accentuate the apple flavour of the Christian Drouin Calvados alongside the Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac.
A Negroni (pictured below) is made according to the classic recipe with Tanqueray No Ten gin, Campari and a house blend of vermouths but then given a twist by spraying on a perfumed distillate made from the same botanicals used to create the Langham hotel’s signature scent – the delicate, lightly floral aroma that greets you as soon as you enter the lobby.
Even a simple Japanese highball serve of Mizuwari is given a silky and tasty twist, by combining the Glenfiddich 15 Year Old whisky with birch water and mineral water distilled with black Hawaiian sea salt. Then there’s the delicious Flip, made with Michter’s Bourbon, Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum, yolk and goat’s cream plus port in the style of a New York Sour. There are many other classics to explore including a Paloma, an Old Fashioned with Islay whisky, a Navy Grog, a Champagne Cocktail and even a Pornstar Martini.
There are 14 different drinks in total on the menu, priced from £17 to £22, served mainly in classic-style glassware in a pared-back style rather than with the bespoke vessels and ornate garnishes that Artesian was once famous for. The cocktails are listed in a high-quality hardback menu featuring a series of drawings that represent the flavour notes within each cocktail. These illustrations build, page by page, into an intricate image that evokes Art Nouveau floral motifs – which can also be animated by flicking through the pages like a flip book.
But this is just a “preview” of things to come. The team are already hard at work developing Artesian’s new menu which is due to be revealed in the spring.
Artesian, The Langham, Portland Place, London W1B 1JA
Tel: 020 7636 1000