The newly formed Scarfes Bar team at The Rosewood Hotel London has launched a menu inspired by Gerald Scarfe’s most iconic caricatures.
Bar manager Martin Siska and head bartender Greg Almeida might only have been at the bar for less than a year but they hit the ground running with an ambitious menu they want to compete with the best.
‘It was not an easy ask, to create a very different cocktail menu that can compete with the best, with a relatively new team, over the busiest trading period of the year,’ Siska told Imbibe. But the bar manager has experience being dropped in the deep end.
Siska was in charge of setting up Dry Martini in London, working for Javier de las Muelas, when neither spoke the other’s first language.
‘He didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Spanish,’ he says. ‘People would be staggered at how we could communicate but he is a very visual person and it worked.’ But that was then and this is now. Siska poached three Dry Martini guys for Scarfes and pretty much built up the 10-strong bar team from scratch.
‘When I started I knew that if I wanted to make this huge then I needed the right team behind me,’ he says. ‘I started researching the team. Pretty much all the bar team have been at the bar for under a year. Some have a five-star background, some have Michelin star background. It’s varied.’
Almeida was one of the last additions, joining less than two months ago. ‘When he arrived a lot of the drinks were in the final stages but he tried them and suggested twists/ amendments at this late stage and they were enforced.’
The previous menu was four years old when most of the team joined and the new concept took some time. ‘Before, there wasn’t a link between the drinks and the concept. A lot of bars look into their history and form the menu from that. We wanted to be different.
‘Scarfe is a British artist and it was about finding the artistry in the liquid.’ The team had 70 caricatures to choose from. It settled for 13. ‘We looked at them one by one – political, musical, celebrity – to have the sense of place and capture the heritage. The larger ones don’t change that often but the smaller ones change on a monthly basis. They are all iconic in their own right,’ Siska said.
Non-alcohol caricature cocktails are on the horizon. ‘We are hoping, in time, to have a non-alcoholic offering based on Scarfe’s illustrations,’ Almeida said.