Bit by bit, Little Red Door has earned its place at the centre of the Paris cocktail scene. Last year, the bar’s artistic Evocative Menu brought international attention. With a new menu ready to launch – the Menu of Applied Architecture –, head bartender Remy Savage talks about its creation.
Remy Savage gets a lot of practice explaining his creations. From his preference for using saline solution in cocktails to a recipe which includes paper syrup, he’s earned a reputation for taking an idea and running with it, often in unexpected directions. Perhaps ‘imaginative’ is the best way to describe him. Bombay Sapphire certainly thought so – that paper syrup cocktail netted Savage its World’s Most Imaginative Bartender title a few years ago.
But the head bartender at Little Red Door isn’t one to rest on his laurels. Last year, the bar unveiled the Evocative Menu, an experimental way of presenting cocktails. Instead of a typical list of drink names and ingredients, the Evocative Menu was a series of 11 pieces of art, each designed to represent the flavour and mood of the drink. The menu was a hit, and not just among the artists tasked with tasting the cocktails and illustrating the menu. It even earned Little Red Door a nomination for World’s Best Bar menu at the 2016 Spirited Awards.
New Year, New Menu
Now, Savage is ready to unveil the Evocative Menu’s much-anticipated successor the Menu Of Applied Architecture. “Last year with our Evocative Menu, we wanted to see if the evocative power of flavor was universal. This year, we simply asked ourselves if we were limited, as creative beings, by the extent of our knowledge,” he says. So the bar team challenged themselves by learning “something new to see if it would change the way we do our job.” What Savage and his colleagues learned was the history of architecture for the Menu Of Applied Architecture.
The new drinks list, titled A Menu of Applied Architecture, features 11 fresh cocktails which are “in their essence, the reflection of 11 architectural movements.” Savage says the team spent six months talking with architects and visiting museums and universities to really get a handle on the discipline: “The Menu Of Applied Architecture could only work if we were to go in depth in every architectural movement to be able to understand the intention behind each of them and apply that intention to our drinks.”
But if discussing Gothic churches or Le Corbusier sounds like a dauntingly academic way to order a drink, don’t worry. Savage says you won’t need to know anything about architecture to enjoy the menu and the drinks: “We do think that people usually go to bars to relax and have fun, not to be clever!” Though Savage is more than happy to cater to architecture aficionados, too – the Menu Of Applied Architectureeven features a drink inspired by Le Corbusier’s brutalist modernism.
Menu of Applied Architecture: The New Drinks
With each drink, the team uses both the ingredients and the presentation to ensure the cocktail evokes a specific architectural style. Savage thinks all the drinks will surprise customers, but in different ways. One of his favourites is a cocktail inspired by deconstructivism – as with the Evocative Menu, the drinks are not named – “where we have a vessel evolving not vertically, as most of the glasses do, but horizontally.”
If that sounds a little too far out for you, there’s the primitive architecture cocktail, “which ends up being a fermentation of local and seasonal ingredients, following the idea of the environment being in control.” In a move that’s sure to inspire return visits, the drink will be heavily improvised, depending on what’s available. “It’s going to be virtually non-alcoholic and very different from one week to another, based on what we can find,” he says.
The Future of The Bar Menu
The success of the Evocative Menu has certainly set a high standard for its successor. But if Savage is feeling the weight of that expectation, he doesn’t show it. “It was great to witness the reception of the Evocative Menu,” he says, “our guests loved it and we really felt like the second we started to have fun with our job, they did, too.” He hopes to spark similar reactions this time. In designing the new menu, he says the team “really went as far as we wanted to go.”
Unsurprisingly, Savage is bullish about the trend towards unorthodox bar menus. From Callooh Callay’s Pantone colour wheel menu to Trick Dog’s recent street mural menu, Savage hopes to see more bars taking a creative approach to their menus. “I can’t see anything but added value in it,” he says, “as long as the guest experience is kept as the main focal point and the delivery is friendly, it can only make the night better!” While traditionalists may dismiss these themed menus as mere gimmicks designed to get attention, Savage sees them as an important part of building a memorable experience for customers. “The liquid part of a night out is one of the many elements that creates a great experience and I think a well-made menu can also be one,” he says. In Savage’s mind, as in his bar, the only limit is his imagination.
Bildquelle: Photo via Louis Garp.