Serving up a really great cocktail may not be enough to sate the demands of today’s consumer, who expects an ‘experience’ as well – and ideally one that’s been personalised. All three are on the menu at Genuine Liquorette, which is putting the customer front and centre while blurring the lines between bar and home drinking.
It’s like a theme park for booze, every single part of this building is a different zone
Opening to the public tomorrow, the Fitzrovia venue takes inspiration from the New York establishment of the same name. It combines a bar and off-licence where customers can buy bottles of spirits, then get a bartender to create cocktails to their specification using their purchases. These can be quaffed on the premises or taken home, and are also available for delivery via ye old trusty Deliveroo.
‘All cocktail bars should be interactive with the guest… to be a bartender nowadays, it’s not enough just smashing out the best Martini or the best service,’ said bar manager Elliot Davies, formerly of Callooh Callay and Satan’s Whiskers, at the Genuine Liquorette launch.
‘People are more aware of what’s going on in their drinks nowadays – they’re starting to want to customise them, asking for specific gins in their Negronis for instance. This bar is putting the power back with them, but with our expertise and style, which ensures that we get it right every time.’
The former Victorian pub takes its design cues from New York’s street-corner bodegas and classic liquor stores, imbued with a healthy dose of 70s vibes. The ground floor opens with the bottle shop, which leads onto a ‘tap room’ where food and kegged cocktails, dubbed All-Star Classics, are available to order. These will rotate quarterly and feature recipes from respected bartenders such as Greg Almeida, formerly of Scarfes Bar, and Bourne & Hollingsworth’s Jim Wrigley.
The upstairs bar, accessed via a vintage liquor ad-clad stairwell, serves Liquorette’s eight signature cocktails and its Cha-Chunkers. For the uninitiated, these involve a can of soft drink with a larger hole cut into the top and a miniature spirit upended into it, accompanied by a dash of bitters and fruit to garnish.
The Pornstar Martini, for example, is made with Absolut Vodka, Rio Tropical, lemon, vanilla bitters and passion fruit, while the Tom Collins incorporates East London Liquor Company Dry Gin, Karma Kola Lemony Lemonade and mandarin bitters.
Customised cocktails are available on both levels. On the ground floor, guests can create custom-bottled cocktails under the guidance of a bartender. They proceed through each station, where the fresh ingredients, typically found behind the bar, are made accessible. In the upstairs bar, guests can choose their spirit and work with the bartender to create a personalised cocktail. Priced per gram, the spirit bottle is weighed before and after use.
The venue has an overall capacity of 125 people, including two private ‘snugs’ on the upper floor with seating for up to eight people.
‘It’s like a theme park for booze, every single part of this building is a different zone,’ said Davies. ‘It’s going to be a party bar, it’s going to be a jam. It’s inspired by Liquorette in New York, but it’s going to move onwards and upwards.’
Genuine Liquorette is appropriating the term BYOB as ‘be your own bartender’ and will be running weekly masterclasses. These will include topics such as how to properly shake and stir cocktails, and measurements and rations for making the perfect balanced cocktail.