We joined Alex Kratena, head bartender at Artesian at The Langham Hotel, central London, for a photoshoot of his garnishes. In contrast to the lavish garnishes that we've covered in CLASS magazine before, which are works of art in their own right as well as being complementary to the drink they adorn, Alex boasts that his garnishes require the bare minimum of prep time but have a similar wow effect.
See Nightjar's garnishes here
See Bassoon's garnishes here
Rather than go on an out-of-hours quest for esoteric elements for his garnishes, Alex prefers to exploit the resources available to him as a bartender in a five-star hotel with a Roux restaurant next door, with all manner of suppliers in place already, and a florist on standby. "You need a good relationship with everyone in the hotel," he says.
Hotel guests are also more demanding, says Alex, and they simply won't wait very long for their cocktail before complaining, so making garnishes over-elaborate is a non-starter. The team nevertheless spends several hours per day on mise-en-place.
Tapatio blanco tequila infused with sweet tamarind, Martini rosato, mezcal Chichicapa and Mandarin Bitters is served on cracked ice, with apple blossom and jasmine flowers.
Inspired by Korean cuisine, this combination of Tanqueray Export, Velvet Falernum, lime and muddled shiso leaf is served on a Manga-style comic, with a lucky rope bought on the internet from Asia, and sesame oil on the side served in a Murano glass perfume bottle.
A twist on a Coffee Cocktail made with Barbancourt rum instead of cognac and Pedro Ximénez instead of port, served in a silver goblet on an ice ball, decorated with edible gold leaf and powdered pimento.
Pistachio liqueur takes the place of condensed milk in the Langham's twist on this traditional Brazilian cocktail, which comes served with a banana leaf held in place with a rubber band. Globe Amaranth Tea flowers are augmented by powdered pimento.
El Dorado 12 rum, velvet falernum, green Chartreuse and fresh lime is decorated with pineapple leaves, mint leaves, icing sugar and catering sugar balls.
Aged sake, lychee, fresh lime and vanilla sugar ("Our answer to the Porn Star Martini," says Alex) is complemented by rose petals, a whole lychee, edible glitter and a side of rosé champagne on the side.
Alex's twist on the New Orleans classic substitutes Barbancourt 8yo rum for cognac, and a rye genever in place of bourbon, served with Vermouth Cocchi, Benedictine and Angostura and Peychaud's Bitters, garnished with julienne lemon peel on an ice ball (the Artesian team do not shape their own ice but specify the dimensions they require from their supplier).
Artesian's recipe is kept a closely guarded secret - it is blended together and rested in European oak casks before being adorned by dehydrated pineapple that has been coated in a rum syrup, griottine cherries that have been macerated in coffee Iiqueur, and pineapple and mint leaves, dusted with sugar.
The house sour (Bols Genever, Galliano, sugar, lemon juice, egg white and red wine) is decorated with bespoke ice, which boasts the Artesian logo engraved by an industrial cutter, with the engraving filled with a water of different mineral content, in order that it freezes with a slightly different colour.
Artesian goes to town with its Mary, which contains soy sauce, celery salt, full grain mustard, green Tabasco, pepper and Worcestershire sauce, garnished with celery sticks dipped in rose salt, oysters leaves, mini gherkins and onion pearls.
A swizzled rum punch served with a half lime, sugar cube soaked in Wray & Nephew overproof rum, inside a crocodile skull (remember to remove the skull before setting alight to the rum).