At this stage, the travelling bartender is almost all travelled out! LOL. Not really, but it has been an epic 5 weeks! 12 flights and landing in cities like London, Washington, New Orleans, Mauritius and home sweet home, Johannesburg. Needles to say, I am a little tired! So, I got my friend Chris Rule, bartender and trainer for Liquid Chefs, to write a guest blog, before I share my experience of Tales of the Cocktails and N'Orleans!
Chris recently took a bar trip to London and by the sounds of things, he had the time of his life... 7 cocktails at Artesian later and now he cannot afford to buy a house in South Africa anymore! [Kidding!] The place is great, but my word the cocktails cost an arm and a leg. I learnt the hard way earlier this year! But being able to watch Alex Kratena and Simone Caperole work is totally worth every single cent! Without further gilding the lilly, here he is:
I was fortunate enough to experience some of the best bars and cocktails in London on my recent trip.
London may be perceived as an unfriendly hustle-and-bustle city, but this is not true once you step inside an establishment to enjoy a well-deserved drink.
First off, the one thing that popped out to me the most is the knowledge and service excellence, not just in the top rated cocktail bars, but everywhere from clubs to pubs. There seems to be a greater drive from staff to be proficient at what they do and it comes across immediately. The symbolism of a "back" truly confirms this. (A back is a glass of water given to guests upon sitting at a table or getting to a busy bar, a symbol of your presence being acknowledged, almost an embracing hug to welcome you in.)
Artesian Bar is located in the Langham Hotel in central London. It's the winner of Best International Bar team, Best Hotel Bar and World's Best Bar this year, and when you walk through the door you can immediately tell why. Everything just screams elegance, from the fancy complimentary snacks to the texture of paper used in their menus. Now, to the cocktails.
Each cocktail cost approximately R300. Expensive I know, but when you taste and experience them, the price becomes worth it.
Camouflage (Pictured above), comes in a beautiful golden pineapple, is made with Tanqueray No. Ten, Americano, Carrot, Kombucha and sandlewood, served over crushed ice and enclosed with smoke. This cocktail has such an earthy yet refreshing flavour with amazing aromas from the smoke and sandlewood. Every cocktail is served with a history/explanation of its creation and ingredients, giving you a greater understanding of what your about to indulge in.
I managed to try 7 of their cocktails, providing a rather substantial bill at the end, each cocktail has it's own personality and experience. But hands down my favourite would be Love & Death (below).
Made with Bulliet Rye, Verjus, Vermouth and Bitters. Simple in presentation and appearance but when that first sip hits your tongue... nothing short of euphoria. So complex and deliciously smooth I couldn't help myself, I had to have another.
69 Colebrooke Row, The Loft and Trailer Happiness were the other bars I was fortunate enough to visit. Trailer Happiness being my favourite out of my whole experience of London cocktail bars. It's a small Polynesian themed bar with 70s-esque décor, boasting an impressive 200 different rums on their backbar. The menu consists of well-known tiki classics as well as some rather interesting flavour combinations utilising ingredients like yuzu, lime leaves and a British staple: Ribena (blackcurrent concentrate).
One of my favourite drinks is called a Corn 'n Oil, a mixed drink that many wouldn't have experienced in South Africa as we can't buy Falernum (A syrup made from blanched almonds, spices, sugar, ginger and lime zest). Fear not, you can make your own. Here is this simple & delicious recipe:
|Method:||Build & stir|
50ml Bacardi Superior
|Garnish:||Lime zest (express oils & drop in)|
You may use Angostura bitters, which would be more traditional, but I'm partial to the aniseed flavour and aromatics of Peychaud's.
It has been a pleasure sharing my experience with you, hopefully this won't be the last you read of my exploits. Until next time, mix those drinks and check MUDL for more. A huge thank you to Denzel Heath (@MeMyDrinksandI) for this opportunity.
The Guest Travelling Bartender (Chris Rule)