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Confessions of a Hotel Bartender, Vol. 5: Ritz Paris & Connaught London

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April 11, 2014 at 9:47 AM | by | ()

What happens when two famous hotel bartenders spend a week mixing cocktails in the same bar? In the case of Agostino Perrone, director of mixology at the Connaught London, and Colin Field, head bartender of the Ritz Paris, it’s a bringing together of styles, a list of delicious drinks as a result, and lucky for us, double the Confessions of a Hotel Bartender.

We stopped by the buzzing Connaught Bar to hear about Colin’s week-long residence in London and learned more about cocktails in an evening than we had in our entire lives, from molecular mixology being dead (in case you didn’t know already), to the story of an old Italian liqueur called ‘the Witch’, and of course, the perennial hangover-cure conundrum.

HotelChatter: which drink has been most popular so far?

A: They’ve all done well, but champagne-based drinks, like the Pink Poire (pear vodka, freshly squeezed rhubarb juice, Suze French aperitif, freshly squeezed lemon juice, homemade almond syrup, champagne brut, served in a wine glass with an orange zest, dry pear slice and orange flower water spray), are always popular in a hotel

Yellow Submarine

Your own drink of choice?

A: Depends on where I am, the country or the context, but I love tequila and gin.

C: Depends, if I am wearing a suit and tie I will have a dry martini, if I’m wearing a country jacket I’ll have a bourbon Manhattan over ice, with a lady champagne, but on a desert island I’ll take a Serendipity, it’s France in a glass.

A trend in cocktails Agostino and Colin pointed to and we saw evidence of was dehydration, dried fruits & vegetables used as ingredients or garnish, the result of a ventilation oven. Another is the increasing use of home-made ingredients, from almond or raspberry syrup to vermouth and liqueurs.

Best hangover cure?

A: Bloody Mary.

C: Drink wisely, and keep off the sugar – stay on the dry spirits.

Favorite hotel bar (other than your own)?

A: Dukes London, it has a very calming atmosphere with no music. After two martinis, I’m meditating.

C: It doesn’t matter where, as long as the drink is perfect and something interesting happens to me.

We also asked Colin about his experience of mixing cocktails at 30,000 feet on Air France, and we learned that he put together a menu of 10 cocktails, all based on ingredients already on board La Premičre (First Class) with only a few additions of his own, like fresh mint. The Serendipity (on the menu this week at the Connaught) is very popular, and characterized as ‘France in a glass’, that feels particularly apropos to us on the French flag carrier. Other things you could look forward to are a port & cognac combination that we trust ‘goes very well with the post-dinner cheese selection’.

Our last question, appreciating Colin is a bartender without his own bar at the moment:

Colin, what do you look forward to most about reopening the Hemingway Bar?

Welcoming back the “orphans from the Hemingway Bar”, the regulars that have been away for so long.

Want to catch Agostino and Colin together at the Connaught? They will be there tonight and tomorrow, with the bar open between 4pm and 1am.

[Photo: Ritz Paris / Connaught London, JasonD for HotelChatter]

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