On Martini Day, we thought it would be proper to tell you the story about the Vanguard No. 11, The Connaught Bar’s homage to the drink we all know and love.
To commemorate 11 years of the legendary Connaught Bar in London’s Mayfair in 2019, the bar team led by Agostino Perrone and Head Mixologist Giorgio Bargiani, crafted a cocktail menu titled The Vanguard, inspired by the bar itself – the structure, the David Collins Studio design, the signature Martini, and the guests.
The menu is divided into three chapters, each paying tribute to an element of the space. Strata is dedicated to the bar itself, Verve represents the two hand-hammered iron gates that flank it on either side, and finally Enigma which is a nod to the heart and soul of The Connaught – the Martini.
The five drinks listed under Enigma are the most conceptual of the menu with the No.11 stealing the show as the pièce de résistance. We have long known the Connaught Bar martini to be a ritualistic treat, complete with the perfect spirit, a choice of aromatic bitters, and made right in front of the guest at the the signature martini trolly where all the magic happens. The No. 11 embraces all these and melds them into one magnificent pour using the bar’s own gin (bottled exclusively for and by The Connaught), Vodka, Amalfi lemon oil, wine distillate and all five bitters (cardamom, tonka, ginseng & bergamot, lavendar, and coriander seeds). But it doesn’t end there; to tip their hat to the iconic Connaught pour (a dramatic high-pour technique used to aerate the drink), the No. 11 is dispensed from an ingenuous machine which serves the same purpose but with much more power – the equivalent of pouring a drink from the 11th floor, apparently. The resulting aeration is known to enrich the flavour profile of the drink on the palate. The No. 11 is served with a half cut diamond of ice in a coupe, hand painted by the bar team with five colours to represent the five bitters used. The painted glassware and the name of the drink are both inspired by the abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock who used to number his masterpieces.
It is safe to say that this has been the most eloquent homage to the Martini we have seen in recent years. Every element of the Vanguard’s No. 11 is deeply poetic and true testimony to our love of artisanal drinks and the shared passion of the ones who conjure up the most creative ways in which to pay tribute to the classics. The Second Golden Age of cocktails is unfolding right before our eyes, and while we wait to sip on our next Martini, you should start making plans to visit The Connaught Bar the next time you find yourself in London.
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