SB Voices: Minimalist cocktail menus

17th February, 2017 by Annie Hayes

Inspired by Tony Conigliaro’s new Dalston-based bar, Annie Hayes touches on the emotional power of minimalism in cocktail creation.

SB‘s news, web & social media editor Annie Hayes

“Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art.” — Richard Holloway

The dictionary definition of minimalism is ‘a style or technique that is characterised by extreme spareness and simplicity’, though (perhaps almost ironically) the concept is so much more than that. It’s about picking out the most valuable parts of something with intention, whether that thing is a piece of art, a thought process, or indeed a cocktail, and purposefully removing everything that distracts from it. Though stripped-back cocktails are nothing new – the Martini was invented in the late nineteenth century – the way bars and bartenders are playing with the concept in 2017 to express feeling through flavour is a trend I find incredibly inspiring.

A great example of this is Tony Conigliaro’s new Dalston venture, Untitled. The venue is styled on Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory, which brought New York’s most prolific characters together including artists, performers, musicians, socialites and free-thinkers. As such, Untitled is clad in polished concrete with silver walls, and fitted with a chunky 20-seat table which commands the entire space.

But it is the menu that speaks the loudest. The short cocktail list houses twelve multi-sensory creations that thoughtfully play with flavour science, design and emotional memory to evoke the very thing they are named after – whether its ‘Green’ or ‘Violin’ or the ethereal-looking ‘Snow’, pictured below. The menu description for ‘Ghost’ simply reads oak, chocolate and clay.

Now, more so than ever, bartenders have access to techniques and equipment that allow them to harvest practically any flavour. Look at the recent ‘sensorium’ menu by Singapore-based bar, Tippling Club, which contained cocktails like ‘Campfire’: a combination of marshmallow milk, burnt syrup, ash and gin. By focusing on one principle idea and experimenting with skill, bartenders are revolutionising the global bar industry. The cocktail potential is immense.

‘Snow’ cocktail at Tony Conigliaro’s new Dalston venture, Untitled

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