The Langham's celebrated Artesian bar has launched its new cocktail list. This time round, supremo bartenders Alex Kratena and Simone Caporale have chosen the theme of Surrealism. True to form, the cocktails are out of this world.
In truth, Surrealism leaves me cold. Salvador Dalí and others' attempts to stimulate the subconscious are wasted on me. This may be because my subconscious is boring – while most people’s dreams resemble episodes of Game of Thrones, mine mostly involve sitting exams, catching public transport or queuing.
But whatever the value of Surrealism as an art form, it certainly works as an inspiration for a drinks menu.
As I understand it, a key part of Surrealism is that mundane objects – like hats, birds, ants and elephants – represent something else: usually sex. This seems like an appropriate inspiration. Artesian’s cocktails, exemplified in this new menu, aren’t really, or even mainly, about the liquid you pour down your throat; they’re about entertainment, extravagance and theatre.
Anti Hero was the best cocktail I tried. The Don Julio Reposado, Muscat, gentian, verjus, smoke and blood orange flavours are blended to perfection, but more importantly, it’s served in a black crystal glass perched in the frame of a silver elephant constructed from Lego.
Order Join the Colony, because it tastes like nothing you’ve ever drunk in your life. Absolut Elyx, wheat, almond, juniper and bergamot flavours come together in an unusual but deeply satisfying way (choose something else if wheat flavoured cocktails are too surreal for you). Also, it’s served in a giant copper ant.
Try the Your Room or Mine? because of the fine mix of Glenfiddich 15 Year Old, Becherovka and Pineau des Charentes, and because its golden cup is encased in Meret Oppenheim inspired Hermès scented fur. You don’t need a school boy’s sense of humour to find this cocktail funny, but it helps.
If you want to feel like Indiana Jones, order Chameleon Crystals. Giving away any more than that would be akin to giving away the twist in a film. I could go on, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.