Why the Best Bar in the World is Betting on Non-Alcoholic Cocktails

December  8, 2017

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The American Bar at The Savoy Hotel in London is no spring chicken, but when it comes to what's being stirred or shaken for your glass, the institution somehow continually reinvents itself in ways that are noticed. As the website notes, the American Bar has been "at the forefront of the cocktail world for more than 125 years...home to legendary bartenders Ada Coleman, Harry Craddock and Peter Dorelli." And recently, it was awarded Best Bar in the World by The World's 50 Best Bars, with the cocktail program headed up these days by manager Declan McGurk and head bartender Erik Lorincz.

Lorincz came to The American Bar as Head Bartender in 2010, when the hotel opened after three years of renovation. While he'll turn to the classic Savoy Cocktail Book on occasion, Lorincz has a penchant for dreaming up his own drinks the same way any bartender worth his mixing glass does. For him and McGurk, though, it's not just one or two new cocktails to add to the menu; it's a whole list's worth, in exciting thematic fashion.

Of the new menu they debuted earlier this year, dubbed "Coast to Coast," Lorincz says that it was developed as a journey through Great Britain. To create the menu, they researched and visited many areas of the country for inspiration, and uncovered local ingredients to incorporate into drinks. "Britain has so much to offer, from the coastline to garden of England [Kent] all the way through Sherwood Forest up to Scotland," Lorincz explains. "We have played with many ingredients that we found through this journey...and searched for stories that were perfectly matching with our cocktails."

Photo by Jessica Smith

This journey produced drinks named Garden of England, Art Deco, Castle Rock, and The Pennines, among others. They're all presented in a fashion that speaks to their origins, whether it's a drink served atop an Art Deco tray, in a large goblet, or resting in a terrarium-like vessel. For each cocktail, there is also a bartender's note that explains each ingredient and gives a short description of the area of Great Britain that inspired it.

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One of the most interesting, and welcome, additions that flies just under the radar? Non-alcoholic versions of Lorincz's cocktails made with Seedlip, a distilled, UK-made, non-alcoholic spirit that comes in two flavor profiles, Garden 108 and Spice 94.

"We wanted to give an equal experience to non-alcoholic drinkers," Lorincz explained. He added that they see the importance of serving non-alcoholic drinks that are the same high quality as any of their other offerings. "Seedlip was a perfect choice to keep the quality high." (And it's not just The American Bar that's embracing non-alcoholic cocktails and Seedlip in Britain. London bartenders like Tony Pescatori at NightJar and Ryan Cheti at Dandelyan Bar, both also ranking on the list of The World's Best Bars, serve them, too.)

We were lucky enough to get two recipes from Lorincz for the non-alcoholic versions of Garden of England and Art Deco. Be forewarned: There are a few unusual ingredients in these (because what would you expect from the Best Bar in the World?), so you may need to do some imitating or adjusting if you hope to make them at home. And if you happen to be in London, it'd be mighty worth stopping in for the real thing.

Last week we introduced to you our team. In the next few weeks, we want to introduce you, individual members of Antique team. Today @eriklorincz Erik is Antique co-owner and the head bartender at The Savoy’s iconic American Bar in London... Now, long story short. 🙂 While studying hospitality at home in Slovakia, he got interested in bartending, attended a bartending competition in Prague as a guest, and then signed on for a month-long bartending program there one year out of high school. While in the program he started bartending thanks to a connection his teacher made and continued to bartend in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. He was a bar manager there as the cocktail scene there was just beginning. Looking to move forward in his career, he moved to London to learn English. He took a job as a barback cleaning ashtrays and such at the Attica club. Then he found a job bartending in a Japanese restaurant and was intrigued by the Japanese style of bartending, so he went to Japan to meet and study under the famous Kazuo Uyeda. After his stint working in Japanese bars in London, Erik was able to apply his skills at the hotel bar at The Sanderson and then The Connaught. In 2010, he won the Diageo World Class international bartending competition (beating 9000 entrants) and started his position at the American Bar at the Savoy when it reopened on 10/10/2010. You can find Erik behind the Antique Bar almost every month.

A post shared by Antique American Bar (@antiqueamericanbar_bratislava) on

A note to keep in mind about measurements: most UK jiggers are 25/50ml or 35/70ml, and most American jiggers hold 1.5 fluid ounce (about 44 ml)—50 ml is a little more than 1.5 fluid ounces.

What are your favorite non-alcoholic cocktails? Let us know in the comments!

We've partnered with VisitBritain to take a closer look at the foods, producers, restaurants, and regions that make Great Britain a top destination for food-loving travelers. Follow along on Instagram to see what's going on across the pond at @lovegreatbritain and what Great Britain is eating at @greatbritishfood.

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1 Comment

BerryBaby December 9, 2017
Club soda and the vinegar juice from green olives. I serve it with skewered green pimento stuffed olives.