Discover London’s most spectacular cocktail experience

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Discover London’s most spectacular cocktail experience

The Aubrey’s Omakase bar will introduce you to rare liquors and fascinating flavors in a cocktail experience tailored to your tastes – we tried it

Most of us measure our day by what we can do and how quickly we can do it. So there’s something exceptional about an experience that makes you want to slow down and enjoy every bite of what you eat, every aroma you smell or, particularly in this case, every sip you drink. Aubrey’s Omakase Bar at London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel is one such experience, a lesson in appreciation for the lucky six who can sit around its table.

Some of the world’s spirits and homemade bitters are on offer at the Aubrey’s Omakase Bar. Photograph by Steven Joyce.

The first meet-and-greet bar in the UK, The Omakase Bar is located in a secluded side room of The Aubrey restaurant. To get there, you must descend the stairs to the lower level of the Mandarin Oriental, pass through the sumptuous red interiors of The Aubrey, and find yourself in an intimate, dimly lit enclave with every surface of the wood-panelled walls covered in gold frames. paintings.

In the middle of the room is the horseshoe bar with just enough room for six people to sit and a range of bright liquors with unknown labels lined up behind it. “Omakase” translates from Japanese to “I leave it up to you” and generally refers to a dining experience where the chef decides what will be served to you. In this case, that means the six cocktails served during the two-hour experience are crafted by bar manager Pietro Rizzo based on his reading of your individual tastes and the mood of the evening.

Describing the evening, Rizzo said, “A drink-focused omakase experience has never really been developed before, but we thought London was a perfect capital to launch such a unique concept. People here are ready to receive an experience where they don’t have to choose; we often have to make decisions in our lives, [but] at Omakase Bar, you feel you can trust your bartender.

The experience feels like a jazz cocktail, with Rizzo and fellow bartender Sara Cassano reading the room and improvising creations as they go. Using a range of rare and precious liqueurs mainly from Japan, the pair use a limited combination of ingredients to create innovative cocktails. On the night of Wallpaper*’s visit, we were served drinks that included a combination of cherry blossom liqueur and The Aubrey’s own brand of champagne, which tasted like distilled petal-scented water.

Bar manager Pietro Rizzo

Another drink was an upscale take on a Chūhai, a canned Japanese drink that combines shochu liquor with carbonated water. Shochu can be made from anything from sweet potato to barley and brown sugar and although it is very popular in parts of Asia, it is relatively unknown in Europe.

The wonder of shochu, and its potential to be the next great liquor outside of Asia, was just one of the many things we learned on our omakase night, sipping Rizzo’s shochu rice mix. with sakura vermouth, a splash of violet liqueur and soda kept in an antique crystal carafe. Yet the most impressive of the evening’s offerings was a variation of the Adonis cocktail, which blended sake with an extraordinary tomato liqueur and umami bitters to create a delicate, flavorful and deliciously distinctive drink.

An example of the small bites served with cocktails from the Omakase bar

Drinks take priority at the Omakase bar, but an impressive selection of light finger foods, such as lime yellowtail sashimi or Wagyu beef sushi, are served alongside them. The whole constitutes an extraordinary parade of flavors, both familiar and strange, which will surprise and delight even the most jaded palates. §

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