Soho’s award-wining Bar Swift has launched a new cocktail menu of reinvented classics and simple serves for its downstairs bar. Developed by the team and co-owners Bobby Hiddleston and Mia Johansson, the menu bucks the current industry trend for conceptual story-driven menus and instead opts to focus on the bar’s signature style of paired-back presentation.
But far from a simple list of simple drinks, keen eyes will quickly notice some distinctly retro flavours taking over the page, with ingredients such as passion fruit, kiwi, banana and even peanut butter getting a Swift-style makeover.
'We’ve not been afraid to use flavours that today many people turn their nose up at or see as belonging to older drinks,' Hiddleston told Imbibe.
These bold ingredients have been given a new lease of life and incorporated into modern cocktails that take into account today’s drier palate. They’ve also seemingly slotted in perfectly with a cross section of innovative spirits including armagnac and calvados, as well as making use of the bar’s impressive global whisky selection.
As a list strictly catering for the downstairs bar, the moodier and more intimate setting where guests tend to linger over their drinks, there are some bold sippers that dominate the menu. However, nine of the best and most popular drinks from the last menu have kept their place in the classic section – cocktails the team felt they couldn’t replace. And as Hiddleston points out, when you’re trying to invent modern classics, they need time to stick around and find a loyal following.
As to the paired-back design, Bobby said it’s 'more of a case of avoiding gimmicks'.
'At Swift, our guests tend to sit down and want to order quickly, rather than reading through pages of a story,' he said, 'In fact our regulars tend to chat with us rather than even open the menu.'
Three New Swift Drinks
Orange bitters, absinthe, crème de peche, manzanilla, Tokaji, Noilly Prat dry vermouth
Sherry is having a moment and Swift has made it the star of this beautifully light and delicate fortified drink, bursting with stone-fruit flavours.
Montelobos, lime, pea sherbet, green Chartreuse, Plymouth, Perrier-Jouet, soda
This vegetal take on a gin sour has a hint of smoke, and takes its green hue from the French spirit Chartreuse, along with lime and pea sherbet.
Angostura, ginger bitters, honey, orange curacao, Clos Martin, peanut-butter Bacardi 8
A fun twist on the classic Old Fashioned, the Tinderbox combines a delicious peanut-butter rum with armagnac for a rich finish.
Photography by Jason Baily