Veronica Di Pietrantonio, formerly of Dandelyan/ Lyaness, and Pietro Collina, ex-Eleven Maddison Park/ Nomad, have relaunched Viajante 87 in Notting Hill. Hamish Smith caught up with them.
You’ve taken the reins at Viajante 87 – tell us how this move came about and the direction you’re taking the bar in
Markus Thesleff – the owner of restaurant Los Mochis and Viajante 87 – reached out in June. We loved the inspiration behind the bar [travel] as our own travels across Latin America really informed our perspective. We felt like we became part of the Latin American bar community and the idea of continuing to work with Latin America, its people and ingredients – we were really drawn to that. So the bar will be a celebration of the region, but we’re not trying to be an authentic Latin American bar – the drinks will have the flavour profiles but through an elegant, West London lens.
What Latin American ingredients are you working with?
We started working with ingredients that were introduced to us by our friends during our travels last year and surprised us, such as amburana seeds from Brazil, which give the flavours of a woody tonka bean. One of our favourite fruits in the whole world, lucuma, which has toffee, sweet potato and maple flavours, we are using for our twist on a Piña Colada. We also use different types of chillies from Mexico, such as guajillo, habanero, chipotle. Palo santo from Venezuela. Spirits and wines too, like the Ica Valley Chardonnay, pox, sotol and charanda rum from Mexico, and pisco.
Tell us about some of the drinks
The Ya Está is made with Tapatio Blanco 110, Nocheluna sotol, lime, celery, apple cordial, elixir vegetal. The drink is all about highlighting the mentholated flavour of sotol, and the green profile of Tapatio. It was thought of as a twist on a Last Word, with the addition of celery and apple peel cordial. Martini Malcriado has Grey Goose vodka, Lillet, Reisetbauer Karotte eaux de vie, brown butter sage mezcal, and carrot veil. The drink is created to celebrate the flavour pairing of carrots and mezcal. Similar to a wet Vodka Martini, it has brown butter sage mezcal, which gives it a salted lactic flavour and complements the sweetness of carrots.
The menu proper launches next month – tell us about it
The menu will have permanent drinks but it’ll also have an insert – a moving section which will showcase a different region or country each month. Bars doing guest shifts will bring ingredients that represent the traditions of where they’re from and we will create the drinks for the insert together. Every month we will have a different spotlight based around our guest shifts.
What bars are you hoping to have visit?
We are super-excited to have some of our friends in the pipeline. We hope we can work with the likes of Hanky Panky, Alquímico, Sastreria Martinez, Selvática, SubAstor and Florería Atlántico.
Sustainable drinks-making practices were key to the former Viajante 87. How are you approaching this?
We won’t be on a soapbox yelling about sustainability, but we’re going to be applying these principles in the background. And if people ask, we’ll tell them everything we’re doing. We’ll be using a lot of the by-products from the restaurant across the street to make things like aguas frescas. However much we can make each day will be served to the first guests that arrive as a welcome drink. Things like this will challenge our bartenders to be creative every single day.
You’ve both worked in hotel bars, known for their service – how do you intend to bring this into a more casual space?
We come from a fine dining/hotel background and we feel sometimes what’s missing in bars is a real ‘steps of service’ path, so we’re looking to get into this and bookmark the beginning and end of the experience. We want people to feel taken care of, special, while keeping standards high. We are going to keep the service quick and ‘proper’ while introducing touches like a welcome agua fresca and a goodbye rejuvenating shot to promote hydration and aid your hangover the next day.