We're deep into a season of new cocktail menu launches now, and Sexy Fish has unveiled a humdinger that allows guests to not only recreate the drinks at home, but to buy the correct glass and rotavap distillates for the drinks too.
'This might be my favourite ever menu,' said Caprice Holdings' bars director Xavier Landais. 'This is for consumers. They can buy [the menu] for £15, which is only slightly above what it costs, and the idea is to remove the secrecy of cocktails. You go to a bar and there’s house blend this and that, so we wanted to say, “You know what? We make great cocktails, but you can make them too." There is no magic in making cocktails.'
The turquoise hardback menu includes detailed recipes with information on how to make specific ingredients such as a basil and fennel cordial, and has a list of suppliers for all bought ingredients in the back.
The drinks all reflect the decadence of Sexy Fish and its interiors, with such offerings as the Golden Riviera (chipotle-infused Don Julio blanco, citrus sherbet, oregano, peach, camomile, lavender, rosemary and champagne), which is dusted in gold powder to create a shimmering iridescent pool; and the savoury, herbal Neonach (Hendrick's, salmon, basil, fennel and chilli oil), which is served in a 3D-printed glass of red coral.
Customers can buy all these glasses - including the red coral Neonach receptacle, which is £180 a glass, while the rest are between £5 and £15. 'With the glasses, we’ve just rounded the price up again. We’re not making money on it,' explains Landais.
The Sexy Fish team decided to launch the menu in Singapore, London and New York on the same day. 'When you launch a menu, people see it on Facebook, people might be lucky and have a pop-up in their own city but it’s never the full menu,' says Landais. 'They don’t get to experience it, so the idea was to launch the full menu in the three biggest cocktail scenes in the world and for people to enjoy it at the same time as London.'
They're offering the entire menu, with all the correct glassware and ingredients, in each location – a task that required five months of planning just to get the logistics right. 'It was enormous,' recounts Landais. 'We’ve even had a reproduction of our mermaid in plexiglass that we’ve sent to both cities.'
The global menu launch is an interesting idea, and you can't help but wonder whether the team had awards such as The World's 50 Best Bars in their sights. Is this, we asked Landais, merely a PR exercise?
'It is to a certain extent, it has to be,' he says. 'But the first idea is we are a restaurant bar, and restaurant bars are always underrated. They never make it in those lists, and it is very unfair. The idea was to make a point that a restaurant bar can push it as hard as other bars. Of course we want to be in a list, I truly believe we should be in it. If we’re in it, we’re in it, if we’re not, then that’s entirely fine.
'The second thing it was very much an exercise to bring what we do to other cities, to consumers. The bars in Singapore and New York are open to consumers.
'The team here is the best bar team I’ve ever worked with. A team that’s been here for two-and-a-half years, there’s no staff turnover, a team that’s like a family. When you think of the A Team, this is the A Team. We don’t have a superstar, but we have a lot of stars. Together we're just incredible. The real reward is the team that stays. They stay because it’s exciting, we’re ever evolving and moving forward, and they never get bored.'
It sounds as if we're going to be hearing a lot more from the bar team at Sexy Fish, as Landais believes they are only just beginning to really hit their stride.
'We’ve only been open for two-and-a-half years, this is a very different beast from anything else in Caprice Holdings,' says Landais. 'The first year was very much learning what we are, the second year was ok, we know what we are, let’s try to push the boundaries a little bit from our previous menu, third year is, ok, now we know, we know who’s coming, we know our clientele, let’s cater to them. For us it’s all guests, guests, guests. There are no bartender’s drinks on the menu.'
So if you want that shot of Fernet, you may just have to head elsewhere...