It has been a long time since I have written about a bar, perhaps almost two year, and for good reason - most simply are not that impressive. Haute cocktails paired with pleasant surroundings are very hard to find.
Things changed in London. I had the pleasure of enjoying some of the finest cocktails since visiting Bar Hemingway in the Ritz Paris. Perhaps in the top 3 bars in my life, purely from a cocktail standpoint (Bar Hemingway and Death & Co filling out #1 and #2).
The bar was a bit too chic for serious drinking, and has been around too short a period to call it an institution. Nonetheless, it was damn good. In addition to sampling several dishes of food - sashimi, dumplings and potstickers - I had the pleasure of consuming two cocktails, and tasting a third.
The first, perhaps one of the finest martinis I have consumed in years. Interestingly enough, a fine martini for me is actually definite by one that is not poor. This one was simply delicious.
I am going to borrow the words, by borrow I mean steal, straight from the Artesian menu:
"Prepared with Tanqueray No. TEN…poured over crystal clear ice and stirred with a choose of five dry vermouths created exclusively for Artesian by Martini Master Botanist Ivano Tonutti…Each Langham Martini is perfumed with aromatic citrus oils and served with a side of Nocellara Del Belice DOC olives macerated with Taqueray No. TEN botanicals."
And it was good.
Again, from the menu: "Woodford Reserve, Martini Rosso, Martini Bitter, galangal essence. Leather-aged in a large sack for up to a year and garnished with large Spanish capers, chorizo and lemon zest."
I see why barrel-aged cocktails are becoming popular. They add another level depth to cocktails that is almost magical. For a bourbon-based cocktail, the combination of flavors was otherworldly. In the 1500s, the creator of this cocktail would be burned at the stake. Simply wonderful.
If the Artesian bar continues its progression over the next 10-20 years, it has the potential to be the finest drinking institution in the world. At the moment, it is straddling that ever-fine border between a drinking club and a night club with damn good drinks. I hope it continues down the path of the former, at which point Artesian Bar may become the new Bar Hemingway of Europe.