Uncover London’s most spectacular cocktail expertise

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Discover London’s most spectacular cocktail experience

Omakase Bar at The Aubrey introduces you to rare spirits and intriguing flavors in a cocktail experience tailored to your tastes – we’ve tried it

Most of us measure our day by how much we can do and how quickly we can do it. So there’s something extraordinary about an experience that makes you slow down and savor every bite of what you eat, every scent you smell, or especially in this case, every sip you drink. Omakase Bar at The Aubrey at London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel is one such experience, a lesson in appreciation for the lucky six people able to sit at their table.

Some of the world spirits and homemade bitters on offer at The Omakase Bar at The Aubrey. Photography by Steven Joyce.

The Omakase Bar, the UK’s first appointment bar, occupies a secluded annexe to The Aubrey restaurant. To get there, you must descend the stairs to the Mandarin Oriental’s lower level, pass through the sumptuous red interiors of The Aubrey, and find yourself in an intimate, dimly lit enclave where every surface of the wood-paneled walls is covered in gilded frames .

At the center of the room is the horseshoe-shaped bar, with just enough room for six to sit, and behind it is a row of glowing spirits of unknown labels. “Omakase” translates from Japanese as “I’ll leave it up to you” and usually refers to a dining experience where the chef decides what you’ll be served. In this case, that means the six cocktails served during the two-hour experience are crafted by bar director Pietro Rizzo, based on his understanding of your individual tastes and the atmosphere of the evening.

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

The experience is like cocktail jazz, with Rizzo and his bartender Sara Cassano reading the space and improvising creations along the way. Featuring a range of rare and prized spirits, mostly from Japan, the pair use a limited combination of ingredients to create innovative cocktails. On the evening Wallpaper* attended, we were served drinks including a combination of cherry blossom liqueur and The Aubrey’s own brand of champagne, which tasted like the fragrant water of distilled flower petals.

Bar manager Pietro Rizzo

Another drink was an upscale take on a chūhai, a Japanese canned drink that combines shochu liquor with soda water. Shochu can be made from sweet potatoes, barley, and brown sugar, and while it’s popular in parts of Asia, it’s relatively unknown in Europe.

The wonder of shochu and its potential to be the next big liquor outside of Asia was just one of many things we learned during our omakase night, listening to Rizzo’s blend of rice shochu with sakura vermouth, a hint of violet liqueur and preserved in an antique crystal carafe with a homemade sipped soda. The evening’s most impressive offering, however, was a twist on the Adonis cocktail, which blended sake with an exceptional tomato liqueur and umami bitters to create a drink that was delicate, flavorful and deliciously quirky.

An example of the small bites served alongside the Omakase Bar’s cocktail offerings

Drinks take priority at Omakase Bar, but an impressive array of light finger foods like lime yellowtail sashimi or Wagyu beef sushi are also served alongside. It all adds up to an extraordinary parade of flavors, both familiar and strange, that will surprise and delight even the most jaded of palates. §