If you’re anything like us, your holiday doesn’t begin until you’re poolside with a cocktail in hand. We take our cocktails very seriously and while Piña Coladas and Sea Breezes are just fine most of the time, special occasions call for something more artisan. Luckily, molecular mixology has taken the cocktail scene by storm and cocktails no longer consist of spirits and orange juice with a splash of grenadine and a paper umbrella. When it comes to cocktails, both at home and at sea, you’ll struggle to find a more masterful mixologist than at these six spots.
Lounge Bohemia – London
1E Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3EJ
Venture onto Lounge Bohemia’s website and you’ll find nothing but an address and a telephone number. Venture through the anonymous doorway to Lounge Bohemia itself and you’ll find walls covered in cryptic newspaper cutting and masters of mixology blending cocktails take from menus written in aged Czech novels. You’ll need to dress the part and make sure you book ahead, but the cocktails at Lounge Bohemia are worth the trouble.
The craftsmen behind these cocktails really think out of the box (or should that be glass?). The Bubble Bath Martini might not sound so tempting when we liken it to drinking bath water, but rest assured that the lychee, lavender and poppy seed vodka concoction is so good that we wish we could buy it by the bath load. Rose scented bubbles and a tiny rubber duck provide the perfect bathtime accompaniments and Instagram-worthy snapshots. Those preferring something a little more manly might opt for the Old Castro; high-proof rum infused with Cuban cigar and served in a cigar box with candy floss ‘smoke’.
If you can’t choose between the molecular marvels that fill Lounge Bohemia’s menu, opt for the Molecular Gastronomy Cocktail Tasting Menu and enjoy five ‘courses’ of cocktails. Hic!
The Aviary – Chicago
955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607
When renowned chef Grant Achatz and the team behind the world renowned Alinea Restaurant came together, everyone knew the result would be amazing. Luckily, nobody was disappointed and The Aviary has led Chicago’s cocktail scene ever since.
Unlike other mixologists, The Aviary’s are trained chefs and take great pride in dedicating the same attention to detail to their cocktail creations as you would find given to the food in a five star restaurant. Fresh produce arrives daily and the open kitchen is run like any of those you would find in a professional restaurant. Just as chefs are particular about plates, The Aviary’s bartenders take glassware seriously; you’ll find 30 types of glass here, with many of them custom made. Add to this 20 types of ice and you have some idea of the craftsmanship that goes into each cocktail. The novelty factor of the Bunsen burner served Rooibos is almost as good as the taste, whilst the Bluebery puts on quite the show when the mixed fruit and herbs are served in their ‘booze bath’.
Quinary – Hong Kong
Ground Floor 56-58 Hollywood Road Central, Hong Kong
In a country where wine and whisky have long been the beverage of choice, it was going to take something special to sway a nation. Luckily, premier molecular mixologist Antonio Lai appeals to all five senses with his classic cocktails with a food science twist. Expect reductions and infusions galore on a menu that includes the Marshmallow Duo; an jaw-achingly delicious combination of marshmallow milkshake, Absolute Vanilla, aged Manhattan and a warm and sticky grilled marshmallow. Sound a little sickly? Opt for the indulgent Earl Grey Caviar Martini, with ‘Earl Grey infused ‘air’ and caviar molecules instead.
Artesian – London
1C Portland Place, W1B 1JA
When a bar is recognised as the best in the world for three consecutive years, it simply has to feature as one of our hot spots. Artesian, in London’s Langham Hotel, is headed by Alex Kratena and the multi-sensory journey on which he sends his punters is unlike any other. Custom made glassware is designed to manipulate the way each drink is consumed, and taste, scent and touch all come into play with every sip. Ornate interiors set the scene for a special experience and a new menu and theme is though up each year, with each one taking months of planning. This is about as far from Sex on the Beach as you can imagine.
Our favourites? I Feel Pretty is a sweet blend of Frankincense, rice and raspberry, whilst Easy Money features a unique combination of flavours including curry, mango and citrus. Unsurprisingly based on the name, Selfie Compatible wins the award for most photogenic cocktail as you inhale the smoke before sipping the liquid.
We couldn’t list our cocktail hot spots without giving a mention to our favourites at sea. Here’s our pick of the best cruise ship cocktail bars.
50th Anniversary Chocolate Cocktails – Princess Cruises
When Princess Cruises launched ‘Chocolate Journeys’ across its fleet on 18 ships, we melted at the thought of all that chocolate. Part of the 50th anniversary offering was chocolate cocktails and we think they’re some of the most exciting combinations to be found on any cruise lines. Created by master chocolatier Norman Love, the chocolate cocktails menu includes the sweet and salty ‘Dirty Piglet’, with Maker’s Mark bourbon and vanilla ice cream, finished with chocolate dipped bacon. Also on the agenda is the American campsite favourite ‘S’more Chocolate’, with vanilla vodka, a Grand Marnier spiked marshmallow and a crushed pretzel rim.
Molecular Bar – Celebrity Cruises
Created in partnership with master mixologist Junior Merino, the Molecular Bar has long been considered a favourite haunt aboard Celebrity Cruises’ ships. Sadly, you’ll need to make the most of it while it is still around, as it is to be replaced with the World Class Bar on all ships by the end of the year.
Luckily, the Molecular Bar’s replacement looks to be just as exciting. Over 15,000 of the best bartenders in the world have been educated by World Class since 2009 and a handful of those are set to bring their skills to the seas. Expect flavoured ‘smokes’ and infusions in the exclusive cocktails, which recently debuted on board the newly reinvigorated Celebrity Eclipse last month. Innovative mixology and ‘serving rituals’ are what sets World Class Bar apart, with one of our favourite tipples being the dramatic ‘Mystic Ketel One’ which is served in a specially designed kettle to add some theatrics to proceedings.