As Quaglino’s bar manager Marco Sangion celebrates his third anniversary at the European brasserie, the Italian native walked us through the bar’s new all singing, all dancing menu with history at its heart.
Having joined after the major refurb relaunch in 2014, Sangion is a bit of new in the historic establishment and wanted to ensure its latest menu journeyed through its 1929 opening to the present day.
‘We wanted to shout about the history of Quaglino’s to the world through delicious signature cocktails,’ he told Imbibe. ‘From 1929 when it was first opened up until now, every single drink represents a piece of Quaglino’s history.’
From the glassware, to the garnishes and ingredients, Sangion and co have thought long and hard about making the experience an authentic one.
‘You’ll find vintage glassware and “simpler” garnishes on the cocktails representing the 1920s and 1930s (The Martinez and Cheating Wife),’ he explained.
‘While you’ll have “futuristic” glasses and presentations on the 1990s and 2000s such as the Time Machine.’
Every member of the bar team has worked on this menu, lead by head mixologist Davide Arcucci. ‘They have researched ingredients and techniques, and are also working towards the idea of creating a green bar by recycling all our products and limiting the waste to a minimum.’
With the research stage well and truly behind them, Sangion said there is fun to be had explaining the menu, especially The Cheating Wife.
‘It’s the funniest to explain without doubt. Giovanni Quaglino was originally working for a gentlemen called Sovrani at the Savoy Hotel. Rumour has it that Quaglino’s wife cheated on him with his boss Sovrani. Giovanni at that point resigned from his position at the Savoy and opened Quaglino’s Restaurant for the first time,’ he said.
The cocktail is a wonderful concoction of London No1 Gin infused with strawberry and marshmallow, beetroot cooked in Tio Pepe, and Raspberry infused Antica Formula.
‘It’s served in a vintage champagne flute and covered with rice paper which is reminiscent of a woman’s skirt,’ the bar manager said. ‘Women love it, and you should see the husband’s faces when their wife goes: “I’ll have a Cheating Wife please!” Hilarious.’
And how about Sangion’s favourite drink? ‘I love every single cocktail on our list but if I had to choose one I’d probably go for The Crown. It’s a magnificent mix of flavours – Rémy Martin, Talisker 10yo, Chianti reduction, a touch of lemon and apple juice to balance it up and finished with pitted plum jam. Simply lovely.’
As well as tasting good, theatre is an important part of the drinks menu and restaurant.
‘Quaglino’s is very theatrical,’ Sangion explains. ‘The décor, the golden stairs, the live music on the stage, it’s magical! I wanted our cocktail list to be “wow”. I aim for our cocktails to surprise and enchant our guests by their presentation as much as their tasting notes.’