The iconic Hotel Café Royal has embarked on a new and intriguing venture with none other than fashion house Givenchy in its alluring Green Bar, a stone’s throw from the parade of haute couture on Bond Street. The Green Bar lives up to its name, with booth-style seating set against the glistening emerald walls. If, like us, you want a glimpse of the action, grab a seat at the well stocked circular bar, which is the centrepiece of the night’s entertainment. Until the 30th September, guests can enjoy adventurous cocktails inspired by the scents of the ten unisex L’Atelier de Givenchy perfumes, each one as exciting as the next.
At the start of the evening we were introduced to bar manager Derren King, who we would later refer to as a genius mixologist. Derren has created a match made in heaven with his Givenchy-inspired cocktails, playing on the current gin cravings of the masses while also introducing exotic flavours to the cocktail world. His joie de vivre and enthusiasm for this project is infectious and has us all aspiring to be cocktail connoisseurs. After just 6 weeks of research at Kew Gardens botanical centre and the experimentation that followed, the signature cocktails were born.
While we’re used to choosing cocktails based on their ingredients and attractiveness, this experience turns the element of choice on its head. No longer are you using your sense of sight but your sense of smell. We were presented with ten ceramic buttons, each one with the scent of a different Givenchy perfume, and left it to our noises to do the talking. Having each picked a button, the King of cocktails set in motion the magic of mixology. It’s hard to tear your eyes away from this theatrical art, with precise measurements intricately combined, resulting in one-of-a-kind concoctions.
Our favourite part was what King called his ‘seasoning plate’, a vintage silver platter filled with bitters. We chose the Bois Martial, an aromatic cocktail created with Cachaca, in-house vanilla syrup, exotic yuzo liqueur and topped off with champagne. The show-stopping feature was the maraschino cherry, which gave the drink a delicious sweetness. The Chypre Caresse was also a delightful prosecco-based drink, which was particularly floral and perfect for the summer season. They were impeccable accompaniments to our chosen ceramic buttons; never before did we think we would be able to taste perfume.
For those that want to know the ingredients, the Givenchy cocktail menu is a work of art in its own right. Using an artist in-house, each cocktail is paired with delicate watercolour-style drawings, reminding us of a portfolio of fashion sketches. From this, we continued our journey along the trail of botanical flavours. The Immortelle Tribal was one of our favourites, with a real kick from the Tabasco and a warming sensation from the rum and Cointreau. Our recommendation, however, would be the Oud Flamboyant whose flavours complement its extravagant name. To create this tropical number, King steamed the glass with smoking cinnamon, which later infused with the whiskey and Coconut Iced Tea to create a fresh and fragrant cocktail.
A night at the Green Bar will offer you an array of outstanding concoctions, a desire to grab one (or more) of the perfumes exclusive to Harrods and a thirst for the new ingredients that Derren King has innovatively used in his creations. We were asked at the beginning of the evening: ‘What is your usual drink choice?’ and it’s fair to say that the said drinks have been replaced by the Green Bar’s enchanting Givenchy cocktails.
Words by Hannah Brandler