The Artesian is the bar at the Langham Hotel in London. I went there last night. As jetlag has me awake early, I thought I'd share notes on my first bar visit.
The bar menu is here in PDF format.
This bar and its bartenders are a class act. Every movement has a little touch of style but isn't so showy that you'd call it flair. Bar nerds like us just sat and watched Alex Kratena and his fellow bartenders do their work, winding up a bottle of bitters or syrup with a swirling upside down motion to add an exact dash, rather than just tipping the bottle over into the drink, and all sorts of similar movements.
The drinks are served in super-tall stemware bordering on the absurd, but they manange to look appropriately stylish in the setting. Many stirred cocktails come with a puck of ice in the cocktail glass to keep them cool while you're sipping.
Drink garnishes include gold leaf (Milk Punch pic), confectionary diamonds and pearls (See the Mai Tai pic), and a little eye dropper of allspice dram (Milk Punch pic) sitting in the drink. It's really over the top in a way I don't mind at all.
The flavors of the cocktails were far more subtle than their presentation. The menu calls out ingredients that appeal to the sophisticated drinkers' palate (funky rums, aged cachaca, genever, Batavia arrack) yet they are used with restraint in the cocktails. So you get just a touch of those wonderful ingredients in proportions that wouldn't scare away a drinker who is not used to them. If I were making the drinks for myself, I'd double the amount.
It's an interesting approach - I think a lot of hotel bars that try to appeal to both the tourist and the bartender choose safe flavors in complex combinations; here they do complex ingredients in safer levels.
Great stuff, great bar.