Register your details for regular updates, competitions and for guest list opportunities
1C Portland Place, Regent Street, London, UK
THERE ARE BARS AND THEN THERE IS ARTESIAN. For three straight years, this classical hotel bar cum crazy house has topped our poll - and this year the voting wasn’t even close. No matter where our Academy members might call home, chances are they’d rather be at Artesian.
Complacency is anathema to head bartender Alex Kratena, for whom yesterday’s achievement is irrelevant in the face of today. He barely sleeps. "It’s the fear that is the creative engine," he says. "It’s not the pressure of being voted The World’s Best Bar - we know one day we will not be - it’s the challenge of doing things better every day."
Simone Caporale is the other half of this slicked-back duo. "The World’s 50 Best Bars is like the Oscars - it makes people talk about the films, but they must still be good when people sit down to watch them."
Caporale and Kratena’s performance is always impeccable. They have been side-by-side for four years and are as happy together as a pair of affectionate albatrosses. It’s no coincidence that this period has been the most successful since the bar opened in 2006.
A new menu is devised annually - last year it was based around perfumes and smells. Of the current Unfolding & Exploring theme, the Camouflage is about the easiest cocktail to describe in words, it’s a golden pineapple containing gin and sandalwood.
Here’s something of an exclusive - July 2015 will see the theme Surrealism. Kratena says the menu will "examine the functioning of cocktails in the absence of reason". Don’t try to understand, just visit.
A modernist approach, yes, but these two are grand masters of classical hospitality. Tell Kratena you went to Artesian and didn’t have a good time, and he’d likely disintegrate before your eyes - then put himself back together again, pull a table and chair out of his jacket pocket and slide a flawless cocktail out of his sleeve.
If Kratena is the perfectionist, leading the merriment is Caporale. The staff seem only a moment from laughter, yet take their roles as seriously as if they trained for them all their lives. Kratena says the bar is better judged when he or Caporale is not in residence. Here, the collective is everything.
Look no further than close of business on Saturdays, when staff don’t reach for a beer or head home. Bar back to head bartender, new cocktail concepts are presented to the team. Artesian is not just a bar, it’s an ideas factory that keeps moving things on and on and on.