Who needs to read when you can choose cocktails based on your other abilities? These three bars let you pick drinks based on your choice of perfume, your association with memory, and your taste in art.
Evocative Menu from Little Red Door, Paris
The menu of Paris' Little Red Door is a thick book of illustrations with no obvious words on it - until you pull out the flaps accompanying each image. Each artwork is a "visual representations of the flavour experience" so drinkers can simply choose drinks based on how it makes them feel, rather than reading anything about it should they not want to bother.
The menu itself feels like an art object, and I hear from Remy Savage that the next menu will be based on the Brutalist architecture movement. I can't wait to see how that plays out!
Perfume-Inspired Menu at Fragrances at the Ritz-Carlton, Berlin
The cocktail menu here is based on famous scents from Giorgio Armani, Bulgari and Guerlain. Rather than a printed or scented paper, the "menu" is an area with cocktail ingredients under bell jars and accompanying perfumes. Drinkers walk through and choose their drinks by their noses- or by looking at the ingredients in the cocktail dioramas. I'm bummed I didn't visit this bar when I was in Berlin this fall.
Sensorium Menu, Tipping Club, Singapore
The Sensorium menu launched in fall 2016, and is a group of scent strips offered to drinkers poking out from a cocktail strainer. The strips/cocktails are meant to evoke memories, and include Rain, Campfire, Grass, and Forest among others.
They're no standard drinks - this is a molecular mixology/gastronomy joint with chef/owner Ryan Clift and newish head bartender Joe Schofield - so they include things like a sonicated Negroni to make it taste barrel-aged, and an edible rock(!) as garnish on the Rain cocktail.
Check out the artsy, I-want-to-go-to-there video on the Tippling Club's website.
They sent along a press kit so I'll use their photos:
I love where this stuff is going. Bring on more abstract cocktail menus!
Update: Karim Bibars from Charlie in Warsaw let me know that they also have a scent menu.
Subconscious Cocktail Menu from Charlie in Warsaw
(slightly edited for translation clarity)
The human brain is a powerful tool, but sometimes it tricks us. Sometimes it decides whether we like something or don't without even trying. What if we trust that instinct, what if our subconscious decides what we are going to imbibe? Tricking back your brain isn't easy, but we believe that we managed to do this. Our sense of smell is directly connected to limbic system which is responsible, among other things, for our emotions. That's why we decided to present our Subconscious Cocktail Menu without any descriptions.
Guests are given set of 5 identical dark glass bottles. Each contains a fragrance, made in a collaboration with craft perfume lab. These fragrances represent different cocktails, created by our bar manager Karim Bibars. We wanted to give our guests full experience with just one smell: How do we translate bitterness into aroma, how to translate saline? That wasn’t so hard, but how to translate creaminess of whipped cream, or shaken egg white? That's something completely different.
Guests are instructed to smell each bottle and decide what will they drink only on that first sniff. They have to trust their instincts. Cocktails don’t have ingredients listed so no one will prejudge cocktails on this matter, they don't even have names. All come in the same price, so that also excludes any suggestion. Even numbers on the bottles are hidden, so no-one can decide basing on they favorite number. Only instinct.