1073 Cocktails and 238 Bars now listed
Artesian, the award-winning bar at The Langham, London opened in 2007. It is at the forefront of the sophisticated London bar scene, showcasing the city’s largest collection of rums, an extensive Champagne list, alongside an inventive menu of cocktails and blends. The David Collins’ interiors are striking yet elegant, combining hints of Orientalism with the romance of Victorian nostalgia. The atmosphere is warm and relaxed, complementing the creative cocktail menu designed by Head Mixologist, Alex Kratena. Over the years Kratena has developed a cocktail menu of innovative and exciting drinks, inspired by his travels around the world. Cocktails include The Langham Martini, prepared with Tanqueray No. TEN Gin, poured over crystal clear ice and stirred with a choice of five dry vermouths.
The recipe for success in a cocktail bar is a complex one but if there is one thing that should definitely be avoided it is inconsistency. No matter how great a bar is on a good night, if it can’t maintain the standard all the time then I for one am not interested. Some degree of inconsistency is of course inevitable, and indeed it would be just plain weird if every member of staff you encountered was a carbon copy of the next, but in general I want to know what I’m going to get when I walk through the door. Often the flagship cocktail bars of the London’s luxury hotels lead the charge in the delivery of a consistent product and it is one of the reasons I usually consider their higher prices to be a worthwhile investment. It is a great shame therefore that the Artesian falls foul of a problem that really shouldn’t afflict a bar of its stature.
Visiting the Artesian when head bartender Alex Kratena is working will reveal a bar at the top of its game. The striking David Collins-designed interior hints at both oriental glamour and Victorian tradition; it’s a real beauty. The drinks, focusing on rum but with plenty of variety to appeal to all palates, are first rate and the place runs with an effortless efficiency. At its best, this is a bar of world-class quality.
Surprisingly, and most of all disappointingly however, the quality of service is most definitely not consistent. On both of my recent visits, all started out well with Alex present overseeing proceedings. I watched aghast however when the very moment he left the room, everything changed. It was as if the teacher had turned their back and the kids decided to take the opportunity to throw paper airplanes.Drinks were made with such wild abandon that they sloshed out of the glass, customers were ignored, and a general slapdash atmosphere fell on the bar reminiscent of the worst kind of dive bar.
Inconsistent service aside, my drinks were generally very enjoyable. The signature punch was a drink of mammoth proportions that blended rum, Calvados and Poire William eau-de-vie with cherry and pineapple flavors to create a fruity and appropriately punchy libation. The creative skills weren’t limited to rum, as the Sipsmith Sonic introduced this already fabulous spirit to pine liqueur, orange bitters, lime and Pinochio leaves before lengthening with soda. The result was an ingeniously flavored cocktail that made the very best of the base spirit whilst tantalizing the taste buds with an original flavour combination. The trend for aging spirits hasn’t escaped the Artesian and if ever there was an example of how this technique can work it is their limited edition bottle aged Vieux Carre; Cognac, Rye whiskey, vermouth, bitters and Benedictine liqueur never tasted so good.
Little touches such as serving drinks with interesting garnishes including a crocodile head make this a bar that is well worth visiting, you had better just hope that the teacher hasn’t left the room.