La Grande Nation – From Paris to the World via Singapore

An Invitation to experience the brand new cocktail menu at ATLAS.

It wasn’t long ago that the bar world was buzzing with news of some of our friends around the world being awarded and recognised for exemplary work. One of these awards was deservingly conferred upon ATLAS for their Interbellum cocktail menu – an exploration of cocktails inspired by the Art Deco movement of the 1920s. 

Those of us who have been to ATLAS pre-pandemic, and have had the privilege of experiencing the level of detail that went into the drinks, will appreciate that the team at ATLAS leave no stone unturned when they craft a menu. This time, it turns out they have outdone themselves and set new benchmarks with La Grande Nation, their latest menu which launched less than two weeks ago.

While Interbellum focussed on the Art Deco emergence between the two wars, highlighting key events and discoveries across the arts, music, food, and drinks, La Grande Nation is a more detailed look into the movement, through the works of four creators of the time.

Jesse Vida and the team at ATLAS have crafted  a journey through the origins of the Art Deco movement, as experienced through Cecil Beaumont, a writer and aesthete who embarks on a trip to Paris to attend the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes

Cecil’s story unfolds through little anecdotes from his trip, and letters of invitation from the people he plans to see – artists, graphic designers, artisanal glass makers. The artists and creators brought to focus in this menu include René Lalique, an art nouveau designer who is credited with pioneering sculpting of glass on an industrial scale; Suzanna Belperron, an avant-garde jeweller with a luminous clientele comprising the rich and famous; A.M Cassandre, a cutting edge graphic designer whose style was exemplary of the art deco period; and Tamara de Lempicka, a painter known to define the libertinism of the machine age through her work, with a flamboyant sensuality.

Detail – La Grande Nation

Each of these artists is represented through five cocktails which do their best to convey the message of their work, their personalities, and I dare say, a view of the new world and its brand new aesthetic. 

1925 and the years that followed, brought with it a renewed sense of progress and globalisation. For about a decade or so, until the Second World War, central Europe was gripped by a frenzy to celebrate the arts and those who could afford it, did it with much opulence and grandeur. The Art Deco period is defined by this very sentiment. With access to the “free” world, the wealthy could now travel and bring back souvenirs from their time abroad, holiday in exotic lands in the summer, and bring back little anecdotes from their trips. What this also meant was that the floor was now open to culinary adventures across the world of food and drink. With the affluent now having experienced a taste of the exotic and developed a palate for international cuisine, import of ingredients from across borders was flourishing. The culinary world was alive and brimming with possibilities of rich explorations and discoveries. This fact is captured beautifully within the pages of La Grande Nation and its drinks. You will find a generous inclusion of flavours from myriad cultures making their way into an inherently European style menu. Japanese gin, Peruvian Pisco, Mezcal, Jasmine Tea, and spices, make several appearances and sit comfortably within the pages of this elaborate menu like they truly belong. Some drinks like the A.M’s Alliance are seemingly provocative, marrying bold spices and fiery agave with savoury notes while some, like the Blue Note Smoke feel familiar as they play with gentler profiles and known pairings. 

A.M’s Alliance

Most drinks within La Grande Nation, while capturing the essence of the time through immersive storytelling, are equal parts classic and adventurous. It is worth noting that each member of the bar team has contributed to this menu, which is evident from the range of personalities that come through in the anatomy of these drinks. There is character, disposition, and sentiment in each drink and it is abundantly clear that each member of the team has breathed the concept and offered a bit of themselves in their creations for La Grande Nation.

Noble Stone

The beautifully designed pages are resplendent with detail – handwritten letters in cursive, black and white photographs of 1920s Paris, real vintage maps of the city, newsprint, and illustrations. It is safe to say that the design and attention to detail successfully transports one to a bygone era – one where Europe was immersed in a love for the finer things and filled with a certain joie de vivre, so characteristic of the time. It is worth mentioning that La Grande Nation is a complete in-house effort – from creative direction, to concept and design, no creative element of this luxurious new menu was entrusted to anyone outside the walls of the grand gin palace. Unconventional and non-traditional, much like the Art Deco movement itself.

Detail – La Grande Nation

The rest of the ATLAS drinks menu remains relatively unchanged save for the inclusion of the ATLAS Suite – a flight of three petite adaptations of the iconic martini. This new offering is irresistible for anyone who has heard about the ATLAS martini (for its reputation does precede itself) and wants a glimpse into all its possibilities before picking a favourite. 

While most of us reading this don’t live in Singapore and are unsure of when we might visit next, La Grande Nation certainly gives one something to look forward to. The menu serves as an eloquent homage to a movement that has galvanised the very concept of ATLAS and all it is inspired by. A gargantuan team effort by one of the world’s best bar teams, La Grande Nation competes with a herculean predecessor in Interbellum, and it remains to be seen if the global bar fraternity will be unanimous in recognising it as a masterstroke in creativity.

Follow @atlasbarsg on Instagram.

About the author:

Priyanka Blah is the founder and editor of The Dram Attic. She has spent the last decade discovering the world of bars through extensive travel, and has been chronicling the evolution of the drinks industry from both sides of the bar, paying particular attention to guest experience, menu innovations, and creativity.

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