London’s Langham hotel is home to what was once dubbed the world’s best bar. It was a place of incredible and imaginative serves, flowing mezcal shots, and flawless hospitality. But two years ago, at the end of 2015, the stars of its bar team moved on, leaving a gap in London’s cocktail scene. One that the hotel has since struggled to fill. Until now.
Announcing a brand new team of talented bartenders, including Remy Savage from the Parisian gem that is Little Red Door, and putting in Anna Sebastian as Bar Manager from the Savoy’s Beaufort Bar, the Langham seems to have finally got the personalities and talent to move the bar forward. And next week they’re launching their first cocktail menu. But will it be enough to put the bar back on the global map?
From what we’ve seen (and we’ve seen the menu)…. Absolutely.
We catch up with new bar manager Anna Sebastian on one of her few days away from the polished and busy hotel life of central London, down in Tooting. And she’s packed a preview menu for us to ogle over.
Spanning the winter months and seeing them into March next year, this menu is unlike anything the bar has ever done, and purposefully so. This is pared back and classic, with a rich insight into the past life of each ingredient, heroing the small elements of our well-known and loved drinks. On one layer the cocktails explore how their ingredients came to be, where they were grown, and how. One a deeper layer it’s a search of determinism – how something came to be.
“We have to do something different to what’s been done before,” says Anna. “What Alex and Simone (the two names behind Artesian when it won all its accolades) did what was right at the time for the bar. They changed the perception of hotel bars and made it into a cool, awesome party place where it was acceptable to be merry and lively. We want to preserve that atmosphere but go down an entirely different path with the drinks.”
The design for this menu is simple enough; in so much as you can see exactly what’ll be in your tipple of choice. Think textured paper, plenty of white space and easy-to-understand ingredients. It’s artwork however is far from basic, with a visual connection to each cocktail that grows and expands, holding on to elements of the previous image but adding to the piece until it exists as a whole burst of flavour and colour.
Boiled down, this is the building block from which the new Artesian will launch.
With cocktails coming from the entire team, lead by Remy and his second-in-command Emilio Di Salvo, the turn around on the menu was incredibly tight, cutting down normal development time from a year into one month, with decisions on direction taking place before Anna had officially started.
“I think it has been long enough since the Artesian was known as Alex and Simone’s,” says Anna, “but there is still a huge amount of pressure to get it right in the wake of that success. However, I do think it has been long enough to come in and do something different in such a beautiful bar within one of London’s best hotels. I wouldn’t have left the Savoy for anything less.”
So what can you expect? If you’re hot on social media you’ll have already seen some of the sneak peak drinks, including a Gimlet spread across three serves and cut into clear ice, and the elegant Mizuwari, a whisky serve from Japan. There’ll also be a Corpse Reviver, a thrown Espresso Martini, a Screwdriver, a Flip, a Vodka Martini, a Japanese Cocktail, a Bee’s Knees, a Paloma, an Islay Old Fashioned, a Negroni, a Navy Grog, a Champagne Cocktail and a Porn Star Martini – all completely reimagined and given new life by the team.
Gone however will be the crazy serves such as floating clouds.
“We’re initially getting away from the ‘serve’, the bar needs a change. Some people will love it, others will ask where the crazy garnishes have gone but we think it will give new customers a chance to come in and enjoy the bar in a new light. There will be some visual elements of course but each drink is going to be delicious,” says Anna.
Artesian’s new menu will launch on December 15th and be served until the Spring.
Welcome Drink - something for each guest to sip while perusing the menu - and to ensure we all start with a fresh palate. Dolin Dry Vermouth, Chartreuse, cucumber cordial and eucalyptus oil. Or as Remy puts it, "statistical research suggests people tend to enjoy the second drink a lot more than the first, so it makes sense that the first one to be us right?"
Gimlet - an exciting serve from the new menu.
Mizawari - the final cocktail on the menu.