Well, this has been rather a long time coming. After a holiday from work and then a horrifying plunge back into work, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from the cocktails. Time to catch up with a bar visit from waaaay back at the end of March. For a special occasion (ahem, major birthday), my friends and I took a trip to Artesian, the no.1 bar in the world according to this reputable authority.
We were all dressed up and ever so slightly tipsy on French 75s when we arrived at the Langham Hotel, just north of Oxford Circus, where Artesian is located. It was a Saturday night and we were worried about queuing, (no reservations but it was pleasantly busy rather than heaving and we got right to a table by the window.
The bar itself has a Chinoiserie theme, with an absolutely gorgeous back bar which I did not manage to get a photo of, and the drinks are Surrealism-themed, each with a hashtag to call their own. The presentation is… unique, and each one comes in a completely unexpected arrangement. I started off with a ‘Suspended in Time’ (#feelingpretty), with Star of Bombay gin, lime, niaouli, palmarosa, and yarrow – not going to lie, had to look the last three up, and could in no way pick them out of a line-up even after looking them up. In all honesty, the drink itself did not blow me away – it was gin, and lime, and some sweet things, but the presentation was quite something. It was brought to me with a giant plastic ring, from which was suspended a sort of macramé bag, with the drink hanging inside, in a glass orb. It was weirdly elegant, and I felt quite impressive drinking it.
Perhaps slightly less elegant, but no less impressive, was my friend’s ‘Anti Hero” (#feelinglikearockstar) with Don Julio reposado tequila, muscat, gentian, verjus, smoke, and blood orange, which for some inexplicable reason was served in a kind of meccano elephant-cum-AT-AT (apparently the elephant represents war). This was a showstopper, and everyone wanted to know what it was. My sense was that most of the people at Artesian were there for a special occasion, and everyone was completely fascinated by their (and everyone else’s) drinks. Difficult to blame them when you’re holding a model elephant to your lips.
Things went on in this vein. My second drink was a ‘Join the Colony’ (#feelingexcited), with Absolut Elyx, wheat, almond, juniper, and bergamot – it came in a giant ant and some… cereal to add to the drink. It did, I admit, kind of taste like milk after the cereal has been in it for a while…
In conclusion, I was a little meh on the drinks, but the atmosphere was gorgeous for a birthday. I would say that if you’re looking for insane presentation, Nightjar has the edge – I feel like the commit more fully to the insanity. But for the combination of lovely looking drinks and highly fancy surroundings, you can’t beat it. Drinks are £18 each, so possibly best to stick to that special occasion.