We visit the St James Bar on one of London’s many heatwave afternoons; being welcomed into the hotel bar and given a premium spot at the bar. Immediately, you sense the laid-back luxury of the venue; with a sleek, dark interior that provided much refuge from the heat. The walls are adorned with intricate detail, one of which is covered in what appears to be a Japanese floral partition; which is particularly striking against the deep brown walls. We’re not here to admire the design. However, and as the bar manager slips a CD-shaped menu into our hands, we become excited to try the St James Bar’s latest sensation, its musical-themed cocktail menu.
We sit and talk to head bartender, Remi Garcia, who talks us through some of his favourites and the key concept behind the menu. The drinks menu, which features cocktails inspired by music legends such as Ray Charles, Bob Marley and Beyoncé, was designed by the expert team and inspired by their favourite songs.
Garcia elaborates: “We have engaged not only your senses of taste and smell but of hearing and sight too. The musical themed menu combined with the ambience of the St James Bar ensures that enjoying a cocktail is a full sensory experience.”
A stand out facet of this cocktail concept is the menu; which is designed as a CD case – with a lyric book showcasing all the different recipes and the teams’ take on the album cover. To further the immersive experience, the case contains a CD that can be used as a coaster – and this can actually be purchased as a souvenir of the experience. The team also worked with designers to create an intricate array of glassware to showcase the cocktails – from a rock ‘n’ roll themed box which pours out smoke to a jazzy feather strewn martini glass.
Each of the ingredients used to craft the cocktails pairs excellently with the musician they promote. For example, the ‘Spice of Californication’, based on the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, mixes Vida Mezcal, Cointreau, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, chilli syrup and agave syrup. Not only do these reflect the chilli in the band’s name, but also aim to give the drinker a taste of classic California.
Similarly, the ‘One More Time’, based on music duo, Daft Punk, combines Fair Vodka, Fair Pomegranate liqueur, cherry tomato shrub, lime juice, tangerine oil, plum bitters and a homemade floral foam. Decorated with flashing lights in a distinctive metallic martini glass, this drink mimics the eccentric visual stylisation of the duo.
With 14 cocktails on this elaborate menu, the St James Bar is pioneering this elaborate and delicious music-themed cocktail concept.