These days, a cocktail is so much more than just a beverage. It is an experience. Customising cocktails according to your tastes, or even mood, is becoming more and more common. But one bar in particular is taking its new cocktail range to the next level.
Artesian Bar at London’s Langham Hotel has based its 17-strong cocktail menu on key moments in people’s lives. The team, working under bar manager Anna Sebastian and head bartender Remy Savage, asked members of the public to share the flavours and feelings they associated with important moments in their lives. Over 500 responses, including experiences such as travelling, falling in love, and even riding a bike, were submitted to the bar. The talented team then translated these experiences into its brand new menu.
As someone who thrives on the idea of personalisation and customisation, I was over the moon to hear the recent news that Artesian Bar was attempting such a bold and innovative concept. Speaking to The Drinks Business, head bartender Remy Savage said: “Our wish was to create a deeply personal menu for our guests that can be enjoyed collectively, but still inspire an individual memory. It was our customers’ experiences and memories that helped create these drinks. You could say they were there all along, we just had to ask.”
Creating a bespoke cocktail menu
While some new cocktail bars are experimenting with bespoke cocktails, the ‘Artesian Moments’ menu is something truly unique. Listing its bespoke cocktails with names such as ‘…you took your first steps’ (a comforting blend of Bacardi Heritage 1909 rum, milk, banana, strawberry medicine) and ‘…you fell in love’, made with Mitcher’s Sourmash Whiskey, rose, isolated chilli and pomegranate, you’d be hard pressed not to be curious enough to sample one of these creations. Whether you’re suffering from heartbreak, leaving your childhood home, or celebrating a big achievement at work, there appears to be a cocktail for every moment.
How to order bespoke cocktails
Tell the bartender what you don’t like
While some bespoke cocktail menus are tailored to suit multiple people’s tastes or moods, many bars give consumers the opportunity to chat to the mixologists about their individual flavour preferences to create the perfect, bespoke drink. Din Hassan, Singaporean bar veteran and CE LA VI’s head mixologist, explained the process to Drink Magazine: “Some customers explain what they want too much, that they forget to tell us what will ruin the drink for them.” Clarify which tastes you really don’t like and perhaps two to three flavours you love to give the bartender a clear idea of your tastes.
Explain your favourite drinks
If you’re apprehensive about ordering your first custom cocktail, professional mixologists suggest that you stick to what you know: “If you’re not feeling particularly adventurous, try ordering a drink prepared with a familiar rendition of ingredients, as this will minimise the chance of an unsatisfying cocktail,” Runkov. Lester Ligon of ABV in Manila told Drink Magazine. “Always tell the bartender about your go-to drink. That way, they can figure out what family of drinks it belongs to and offer a riff or twist on it.” First Aid Box, a medical-themed bespoke cocktail bar in London which also offers soft drinks, explains its menu’s ‘Doctor’s prescription’ option: “Let our doctors know what your symptoms are and what you like and don’t like, so they can make up a bespoke prescription for you. We’re not really doctors, but we can have a look.”
Be prepared to take a chance
A big no-no when ordering bespoke cocktails, according to Kae Yin of Taipei’s AHA Saloon, is requesting a drink based on its appearance, not flavour: “Don’t just ask for a beautiful Instagram-able drink and not care what it tastes like – we actually get that a lot. Some customers will say they want a beautiful cocktail and it doesn’t matter what goes on it. That marginalises our craft, and hurts our feelings a little. Don’t do that. Keep an open mind, give us a bit of latitude and let us work our magic.”
The bespoke cocktails trend has really taken off, and consumers are getting more opportunities to branch out into new flavour combinations as a result. However, in cases like the Artesian Moments menu at The Langham Hotel, the cocktails transcend just being a new flavour experience, and are designed to trigger an emotional response. We have the revolutionary bartenders and expert mixologists to thank for these unique experiences.