Hamish Smith has the questions, Salvatore Calabrese the answers.
So Velvet has opened at Corinthia London. Tell us about the concept of your latest bar...
Velvet is a celebration of the second golden age of the cocktail we are in right now, the 2020s, whilst doffing our caps to the first golden age in the 1920s with subtle, elegant references.
How is the bar's theme reflected in the drinks?
Our drinks showcase a modern approach to mixology balanced with subtle references to the bygone era of the 1920s. We have a selection of cocktails which were famous a hundred years ago, mirrored with a modern selection which reflect the world today. Our martinis are a mix of classic and modern, and of course there are a few of my signatures - it wouldn't be one of my bars without the Breakfast Martini or the Spicy Fifty.
And what about the style of service?
Our bar is all about bringing back the theatre to cocktail making. In bars at the moment we’re seeing a lot of impressive ways to make delicious drinks quickly for guests, which is no bad thing, however we believe that there’s still a place for à la minute cocktail making, and that’s what Velvet celebrates. We want guests to hear the music of the shake and to experience the magic of an active, vibrant bar surrounded by a rich, beautiful interior the minute they walk through the velvet curtains.
Will you be using traditional or modern techniques behind the bar?
For us simplicity is key - which in no way means these drinks are not complex. There is timeless beauty in simplicity and it results in drinks that are refined and elegant. We honour the classics and celebrate the ongoing innovation in the cocktail world with our menu, and at the heart of it is true hospitality.