The Artesian – New Menu is a Surrealism dream

The Artesian – New Menu is a Surrealism dream
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It’s not every day that ones drink arrives hanging suspended in a scented net, or riding high atop a futuristic Lego-constructed elephant – but then it’s not every day that one is trying out the new menu at the World’s Best Bar. Yep, those trailblazers of the cocktail universe have done it again, producing a show-stopping new selection of libations that are as much fun to take photos of as they are to drink.

Whereas last year’s list was based on Unfolding and Exploring, the new menu is inspired by Salvador Dali and his Les Diners de Gala – a rare cookbook that embraces and epitomizes the Surrealist movement. My hazy art knowledge of this era is paintings of melting clocks, but during my time quaffing cocktails I learn so much more – such as the fact elephants were a symbol of dominance and power, but were subverted with the use of spindly legs and angular limbs. Also, ants that have been distorted in size – hence the fact both of these animals make unique and impressive appearances when serving. On the new Artesian menu there are boxes, bungees, and one can indeed drink from a furry cup (and yes, the team are fully aware of the connotations). If only Art History 101 had been taught in a bar I’m sure I would have aced it.

suspended in timeThe list itself is a piece of beauty – carved into dark oak and with a selection of nineteen different drinks, all accompanied by a hashtag for what you might be feeling. The first libation I tried was intended #FeelingPretty (charmers!) – called the Suspended in Time, the idea was to deliver a cocktail hovering in air. The result is this bungee-esque drink, which consists of a round glass, suspended droplet like in the netting, which was attached to my hand via a stunning piece of costume jewelry.  The entire production is intended to be a feast for the senses – the net is doused with the scent of bergamot and ambrette, and brought forth a wave of nostalgia for my mother’s perfume, and tranquil days spent in a warm English garden. The whole thing has an almost soporific effect, which, when combined with the delicious drink – a mix of Star of Bombay, Lime, Niaouli, Yarrow and Palmarosa – is the closet thing to a narcotic cocktail I think I’ve had. Time does seem to stand still as your sip on the delicate, fragrant drink…

And here lies the clever games that those crafty bar whizzes Alex Kratena, Simone Caporale and team have created. Much in the way that surrealism held the element of surprise and produced unexpected juxtapositions, the drinker is bamboozled and delighted at the same time. All senses are evoked – from tastes of salty sea air, to molten glassware that resembles the landscape of surrealism. Cocktails might arrive in a clawed box that emits a golden glow when opened, or a furred cup that will leave your hands coated in gorgeous fragrance.

IMG_8513A trip through the cocktail list is like leaping between the frames of wonderful and bizarre paintings – in Join The Colony a huge copper-coloured ant holds two vessels on its back – one is a dish of colourful granola to add texture and complexity of flavour to the mixture of Absolut Elyx, Wheat, Almond, Juniper and Bergamot. The idea is to create tastes that have never been experienced before – and they are indeed impossible to fully relate, as there is no direct point of reference. This is what cocktail aficionados will love – that it’s not just the theatre, it’s also the dedication to providing something new, something un-tasted, and something original. As useless as trying to describe what ‘umami’ exactly means, so these cocktails have that element of the indecipherable.


So whether from curiosity or a fervent desire to experience cocktail history, make sure you head to Artesian and let your senses be inspired by the joy of the unexpected…


Written by Rebecca Milford

Posted: July 18, 2015

Rebecca is a cocktail connoisseur & fan of good nosh. A PR whizz with a gold medal in bar hopping, you can follow her on Twitter here.