You know the drill… You go out for cocktails to be met with that list that you really needn’t even be handed. These drinks are etched into your mind like a highlight reel from the “How To” Cocktail book…. A “Cosmopolitan”, a “Mojito” or even the old-fashioned “Old Fashion” right? Wrong.
I am going to put it out there that I have not seen such an exciting concept in cocktails… ever… and truthfully I wont shut up about it since. Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Fragrances Bar at the Ritz Carlton Berlin.
I was recently fortunate enough to spend the evening on a behind the scenes, one on one masterclass on the inspiration, creation, design and making of these unbelievable cocktails. The brain child of Arnd Heissen.
They would call it….”The first bar dedicated to the art of cocktails in combination with the world of perfume and aromas [with] Hand-picked fragrances of renowned brands by Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and Guerlain “. I would call it a sensory explosion with every small part triggering other tiny senses/nostalgia and feelings.
The Science Part:
It is Simple. (It’s not simple)
They start with a collaboration with a known fragrance brand and dissect the scent notes and ingredients (Vanilla, Vertiver, Oud etc) of that perfume. They then recreate them as flavours with the same notes to replicate your association with the scent. They then take those scents and flavours and create an essence.
They take those and give you a written story that the particular combination would conjure. (A rainstorm on the beach in Bali at sunset… this is not actually one of them).
You still with me? Pay attention.
They then take all of those elements and create a glass or vessel that represents all of those things in which to experience them from which is specific and unique to every drink.
So like I said… simple!
Lucky for me, I had Joscha – who started the evening by showing me the start of an essence that would be a week in the making of saffron and rose. It would then make up one very small measure of the actual drink but an essential part to its flavour.
He knows everything there is to know about cocktails, scents and creating an experience and he is seriously passionate about it.
Within minutes, I was excited to see every drink, every glass, every essence. Its like Charlie and the Chocolate factory except the chocolate is booze and the factory is an awesome bar for adults with great taste in barware.
My advice? Don’t pick based on your usual spirit preference. I purposely didn’t tell him that I didn’t like Whiskey or Sake but because of the essences they are infused with, I had both and loved them.
I cannot take you through them all (There are 30) and so I am just going to take you through a couple of my favourites. (I had a fair few of them)
The Viola Essenziale by Salvatore Ferragamo – “A festival on the rooftop in Macau with a stunning view of the starry night with fireworks”…
The L’eau D’issey by Issey Miyake – Which conjures “a waterfall full of purity and energy”… Fresh, Asian in flavours and is sharp and clean.
My absolute number 1 is Virgin Island Water (Creed Fragrance). This is coconuty and fresh and your mental Image? “A sailing trip in the Caribbean Islands”
The two usual customer favourites are the Gourmand Coquin by Guerlain which is “The cosy Sunday afternoon on the couch with a tub of chocolate ice cream” and also the Vaara by Penhaligons which is the Protected feeling of Home at the Fireplace”
This place is dark, sultry, mysterious and eclectic. It has influences from Asia, Europe, UAE, South America. The reason? Each drink is different and so there are different areas in which you should experience them… (Yes… they have even thought about where you should sit).
My new pal Manny below is the gatekeeper for the Royal Pavillion by Etro and it is suggested that you take your cocktail over by him to experience the mental image it creates.
Personally, I am flabbergasted (I am bringing that word back) that this hasn’t sprung up in London yet and I am more than a little keen to look into starting one myself. That said, I then wouldn’t be able to use it as an excuse to return to Berlin.
If you are in Berlin you HAVE TO go here. There is every chance you will find me there.
Take everything you know about Cocktails and throw it in the bin. This is not a bar, this is a sensory envelopment.
Fragrances Bar – Ritz Carlton – Potsdamer Platz 3, 10785 Berlin, Germany