Drinks World talks design, inspiration, process and tips on how to create the ultimate sensory menu. We chat with Dario Knox master cocktail evolutionist and multi-award winning bartender, who has spent months perfecting his secret menu at The Other Room.
You’ve specially crafted a secret menu for The Other Room, tell us about the menu and can you share with us your inspiration?
The Other Room’s secret menu is a labour of love and dedication always to break the moulds we are surrounded by.
It’s a sensorial menu based on memory triggering processes that involve all our senses – something that has never been done before. The aim was to purposely create an “epiphany” to bring you back to a specific situation or moment of your past that is attached to your emotions. A play on sight, smell, sounds, textures and flavours that will evoke those feelings within the present moment.
How many people were involved in the creation of the new menu? And how long was the process?
This has very much been a personal project. It’s been a mental journey that I started 6-months ago – curating each situation carefully and planning how to put it in into place.
The inspiration came when I was on holiday, walking through the streets of a small town in Europe, I was caught by a smell that immediately took me back to 20 years ago when I was a kid. That sense of surprise and pleasure that we experience when such an epiphany happens, is one of the nicest things in the world.
So I thought, what if we tried to trigger this nostalgia voluntarily…
When creating the menu did you have a particular drinker, season or occasion in mind?
The menu is inspired by memories. I tried to work on memories that the majority of us went through – iconic childhood scenes, vivid youthful moments and memorable experiences.
A bartender looking to curate a menu for the very first time, what are some tips you can provide?
Study, read and memorise all the classic cocktails that exist. If after 300 years we are still here making the same drinks that were invented so long ago, there must be a reason. Those drinks have survived through the course of the years because they are masterpieces.
Base your menu on those. Whoever is creating something new and innovative has always started from studying the past.
Do you feel it’s important to rotate a cocktail menu? If so, how long should the same menu be in place before a new concept and menu are created?
Not only is it important to change a menu, but it is also important for your guests to try new things. It’s also important for the bar team to start working on something new and learn new techniques.
Changing a menu too often, however, may be counterproductive as it won’t create a solid perception of what your bar does. If the drink changes all the time, your patrons may not find the “evergreens” or “favourites”.
Can you share with us details on the cocktail programme at The Other Room?
The Other Room Cocktail Programme draws inspiration by all classic drinks. From the beginning of the 1700s until nowadays, our cocktails are gentle twists of classic cocktails with our unique touch and made with our unique Finished Spirits.
Our programme is a tribute to the search of the ultimate flavour profile for every one of our products.
For those yet to be acquainted with The Other Room, what can one expect?
The Other Room is globally recognised as the only place in the world to create all its spirits in-house.
We have a huge range of over 250 bottles on our shelf that have been carefully crafted over 14 months (pre-opening) and gone through the process of Cask Finishing.
It is the first time in history that something like this has been done in a bar, not a distillery. A lot of love and research goes into the creation of every one of our products. All of this offers our guests some of the best-tasting drinks that they will ever try.