If we eat with our eyes first, it stands to reason that presentation is a huge part of how we enjoy our beverages, too. Lemon twists and basic coup glasses are fine -- lovely, really -- but sometimes, a drink just needs to be served inside a Lego elephant... or, with a whole bouquet of flowers and dry ice. These over-the-top garnishes have become an integral part of what people see as London-style cocktails. Pamela Wiznitzer, creative director of lauded New York bar Seamstress, and president of the NYC chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild, says she is consistently amazed by London's advancements in presentation.
"I’ve always found there are more hyper-theory bars in London, where they have cocktail artistry or ‘extreme cocktailing,’" Wiznitzer says. "Artesian and Nightjar's style is hugely about aesthetics... presentation becomes the No. 1 factor for the drink."
This land of Instagram-worthy cocktails sometimes come with a considerable price tag, especially for pilgrimaging drinkers thinking about conversion rates, but this added level of showmanship is all part of the equation. The top quality products being used, combined with the expert execution and presentation, add a level of drama that can’t be beat anywhere.
"The price of a drink may be much higher," Wiznitzer says, "but it makes the cocktail presentation more important. If guests are paying that much money, then you have to show them it’s worth it."
The closest thing the US has to that kind of elevated presentation and garnish game is The Aviary in Chicago, from Michelin-approved chef Grant Achatz. Beverage director Micah Melton likes to keep his drinks interactive and fun, and seeing the way that London likes to play with its drinks only adds to his inspiration for future interactive concepts.
"I feel like London is more open to new concepts instead of just trying to do speakeasies over and over and over," Melton tells Thrillist. "The bartenders are more creative. They’re doing something that’s pushing boundaries, like White Lyan. Even the classic hotel bars like Connaught Bar with their martini cart; it’s still innovative and multisensory."