Spirits Confidential with Max Solano
London: At Top of the Cocktail World Part 3 of 4
As we continue where we left off from last month’s Part 2 of our whirlwind three-day London cocktail experience back in August, we cracked into the countdown of bars from nos. 15 down to 11. Curiously enough, the list of the World’s Best Bars was released approximately three weeks ago, just shortly after Part 2 was published. Once again, another “Best Of” list, and yet, no explanation or concise criteria regarding that committee’s selection process… For shame!! Of course, it comes as no surprise that London bars fared very well!
Just to remind you, our intent and focus were solely on the cocktail menus and cocktail offerings so specific categories we scored each venue on were: depth of the cocktail menu’s unique offerings, cocktail menu design and creativity, overall cocktail menu depth, cocktail presentation, cocktail translation (description ties to cocktail flavors and theme), cocktail balance & quality, cocktail value & lastly, level of difficulty & time of execution. Each of these categories had a specific scoring range attached to it and the three of us on our own time carefully evaluated and scored each venue. Once done, we got together, tallied our scores and discussed the results! FYI, the selection process from here on forward was very difficult and, in some, cases, scores were separated by a mere handful of points. So, without further a due, let the nos. 10 through 6 countdown commence.
10. Tayer - Very recently opened in 2019 by friends Alex Kratena and Monica Berg, Tayer is the second, more serious mixology-centric bar of the two bars that comprises Tayer & Elementary. Located in the rear half of the venue, to me, the setting was more reminiscent of a bar counter placed in a kitchen space, but one cannot deny the cool, unique design.
Highs: The cocktail menu, although limited in its selections compared to many of the other bars we frequented, certainly offered some delicious, thoughtful and well-executed libations. The brilliance of this menu was the uniqueness of many of the ingredients utilized. However, quite a few of their cocktails consisted of no more than four total ingredients. Cocktails were very well-priced!
Lows: The menu design, itself, was very basic and showed very little love put into it and garnishing was very minimalistic.
9. KWĂNT - Pronounced “Quaint,” this venue was not on our original list, but was highly recommended by multiple locals. Come to find out that evening, Eric Lorincz was behind the concept, which is a beautiful space that has many early 1900’s design characteristics with some Tiki lounge touches.
Highs: Quite a few highlights here! Great selection of signature cocktails and also offered some vintage cocktail selections. The real highlight was the considerable collection of 1940’s-1980’s vintage spirits that were on display. However, for a nominal fee, they are made available for consumption mixed in your favorite libation or simply on their own… How cool is that!!
Lows: Nothing special about the menu. Again, garnishing very minimalistic.
8. Sexy Fish - “Sexy” is right on!! Gorgeous space in a bustling area! And, rumored to have the largest selection of Japanese whiskies (close to 500) under one roof outside of Japan. So, this is what Heaven looks like!
Highs: The menu, itself, is an artistic showpiece. The inspiration comes from a compilation of cocktails that were gathered from pop-ups that the SF bar team had done at famous bars all over the world. The photography is also magnificent. And, the cocktails were all diverse and delicious!
Lows: Again, although the cocktails were splendid, I cannot overemphasize the minimalism to non-existence of garnishing, which I do consider! Also, as expected, the pricing for the Japanese whiskies are not for the faint of heart.
7. Coburg - This is the sister lounge bar of the world-renowned, Connaught Bar, located immediately upon entering the hotel to the right almost in an elegant and pleasant bar-solarium setting.
Highs: Basic perfected! They are not doing anything groundbreaking, but have perfected their craft. The cocktails were all symphonies on the palate. Their clarified milk punch was one of the best cocktails we had on the entire trip!
Lows: Downplayed not to take away the spotlight from the Connaught Bar. The menu was a little simpler then what could have been showcased at this venue.
6. Connaught - What else can be said? It’s the friggin’ Connaught! There should never be a surprise to why this bar always finds itself atop of the world’s best. As a matter of fact, it was just named No. 2 in 2019’s “World’s Best Bar” list.
Highs: Nearly flawless! Had we taken other elements into account such as quality and level of service and staff education, ambience, quality of food, etc. into our scoring criteria, this could have very possibly been our No. 1, overall. Also, the menu offerings are well thought out and very deep!
Lows: The menu design is underwhelming for the caliber and reputation of this venue. Also, the price points are a little higher, as expected, but how does one justify charging £22 for a Bloody Mary?
That’s it, for now, ladies and gentlemen! Next month, we wrap up our countdown with our Top 5 selections! Who will be No. 1? Stay tuned… Til then, chaps!