SB Voices: The cocktail ‘journey’

21st April, 2017 by Nicola Carruthers

A number of bars are turning the concept of the written cocktail list on its head, relying instead on illustrations or narrative. Nicola Carruthers dissects the cocktail ‘journey’.

Nicola Carruthers takes a look at the recent wave of narrative menus

When I was working at a swish hotel bar several years ago, the idea of the Guest Journey stuck in my mind. And it still does to this day, whenever I visit a new bar – and especially hotel bars. The journey is the sum of all the experiences before, during, and after a guest’s visit, adding personalised touches here and there. Bars seem to be taking cues and using a similar narrative, or ‘journey’, to take their guests on through their cocktail menus.

I recently headed to The Savoy Hotel to try the new Coast to Coast menu at the hotel’s America Bar, which takes its guests on an adventure across Britain by honing in on it’s folklore, history and landscape.

Each menu is divided in sections, accompanied by a helpful ingredients key, from the Garden of England in Kent to Sherwood Forrest and ending at Castle Rock in Scotland. In creating the menu, American Bar manager Declan McGurk, said: “We decided that the focus should be on the table, to see how we can enhance the guest experience; and from this a journey of character and content was born.”

Alongside the drink offering, the friendly host takes you through each cocktail and its inspiration, placing it upon unusual drinks stands.

Taking a similar narrative approach, the caricature-inspired cocktail menu at The Rosewood London’s Scarfes Bar takes the guest on an illustrative journey exploring icons of Britain’s past, such as the Rolling Stones, Harry Potter and James Bond. The cocktails have been created to embody each icon with a caricature alongside each one on the menu.

The drinking experience becomes a journey from the moment we open the menu and bars should certainly pay attention to the way consumers are reading their lists. Our values, our memories and our cultural background all come in to play when reading through a menu, whether we’re conscious of it or not.

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