Edwin Smith heads to the Langham's, Artesian, and finds the drinks play tricks on his taste buds
The new menu at the Langham’s globally renowned bar, Artesian, comes in the form of a ‘helicone’. It looks like a sort of executive stress toy: twizzle its central axle one way and its moveable parts arrange themselves in the shape of a double-helix of DNA. Twizzle it the other way and they form something that looks more like a Christmas tree.
On each ‘branch’ are the names of just two ingredients, which describe these beautifully simple cocktails. This simplicity represents a change of direction for a place that was named World’s Best Bar for four consecutive years until 2015, when it was run by Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale.
New head bartender Remy Savage and bar manager Anna Sebastian may have dispensed with such theatricality, but not at the expense of attention to detail. Ask one of the excellent bar staff nicely and they may even lead you below stairs to see how the team uses equipment such as a ‘rotavap’ to extract and isolate flavours from raw ingredients in the on-site lab. The drinks themselves often play tricks on your sense of perception. You’d expect the deliciously rich cognac and coffee cocktail to be dark in colour, but it is totally transparent and served with an enormous rectangular prism of ice.
Gin and golden beetroot comes in a wine glass; appropriate since its colour and taste are, bizarrely, both reminiscent of an extremely superior chardonnay. Our advice? Start with those two and work your way down the list.