“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world”, The Langham London‘s Artesian comes up tops as one of the world’s best bars (being named the No.1 for four years in a row from 2012-2015). It has all the elements of such an accolade – a David Collins-designed interior, inspired by cabinets de curiosités, complete with purple crocodile leather and a pagoda bar; a prime location in the heart of London and one of its most spectacular hotels; and a killer cocktail menu full of creations with names like Death of The Hipster and Fast Money Comes At A Dangerous Price.
Gabor Fodor is the bar’s new blood a.k.a. head bartender, joining the award-winning team in November 2015. Here he discusses his new role, cocktails mistakes and how he pushes his team to greatness.
Q: How do you feel about heading the bar team at Artesian, named the world’s best bar for four years from 2012-2015?
It is an absolute honour to be in such a lucrative position. Great challenges and I am extremely excited to launch our new signature menu [this month].
Q: What makes a good cocktail artist?
Knowing your ingredients perfectly to be able to balance them.
Q: What’s the biggest mistake people make when mixing cocktails?
People tend to overcomplicate things and use countless ingredients. Sometimes less really is more.
Q: If you could have invented any cocktail in history, which would it be?
It would definitely be the Daiquiri. Such a simple drink, but changed nuances can alter the final taste completely.
Q: Which is your favourite Artesian cocktail to make?
One of the cocktails from our new signature list is built entirely around one component that we all love behind the bar. Having only one focus meant it was difficult to represent its varying and complex flavour profile, but we did a superb job.
Q: What’s in your ultimate cocktail kit?
Our brand new rotovap [an apparatus which is used to remove solvents from samples under reduced pressure] arrived recently and has opened the door to a broader means of experimenting for the team and I.
Q: Martini, hi-ball, old-fashioned – do you have any tips for choosing the right glasses for your cocktails?
At Artesian we try push the boundaries. We take our inspiration from classic glassware and twist it to enhance the experience.
Q: What are your favourite ingredients to work with?
New and rare ingredients. I have been working with some fruits flown in from [the] South American rain forests that all [have] the most peculiar taste.
Q: What are some new flavours you’re mixing at the moment?
We experimented with a type of the Chinese Baijiu [liqour] called Lazhou Laojiao, that gains its particular flavour from the clay used during [its] fermentation. We found it works perfectly in a Negroni style drink.
Q: How do you continue to push Artesian’s limits and live up to its reputation?
Team, training, talks – the three things I have grown to live by works in ensuring the bar achieves and remains at its best. Starting with the team, which includes, not only the bartenders who create your drinks, but the floor team, owners, managers and our associates at the Langham through to our suppliers… [They] all share the same passion and that is to continue to keep Artesian at the very top and continue to succeed in being better every day.
Regular training develops the team, making each the fantastic bar personnel they grow to become, as well as allowing them to give our guests the very best of themselves through their delivery of service.
And, lastly, talks refer to our chats with our guests, frequent visitors, our community and the industry who are always so happy to share with us their thoughts on what we’re doing well and how we can improve.
It’s these three things that inevitably makes Artesian and we hope to continue to please.
Gabor’s Ultimate Cocktail Kit
1. Cocktail Shaker
Gabor describes the cocktail shaker as “the ‘heart’ of the cocktail – where the magic happens”. A classic silver design is the tried and true choice for most mixologists but a collection might also house a few special pieces for those showy moments.
2. Ice Bucket
To keep your cocktails as “cold as ice”, keep an ice bucket on hand. A super sleek metal design works well with a matching cocktail shaker and a cut crystal design makes a beautiful table addition. Consider freezing your glass as well for achieve optimal chilliness.
To master precision when making his award-winning creations, Gabor explains that he “could not do without [a jigger]”. Follow his example in your own cocktail endeavours by adding the tiny essential to your kit.
4. Cocktail Glasses
Gabor accurately describes the cocktail glass as “the pièce de résistance” of the perfect cocktail kit and rightly so. After all, the finished product is a treat to be enjoyed. Stock your kit with glassware staples for all eventualities and requests, from elegant martini glasses to decadent champagne coupes.