When I first visited Artesian, the interior was slick, the service on point, it was hot on the heels of being voted the best bar in the world for the fourth time in a row, and – most importantly – the drinks were superb. Would the Marylebone watering hole live up to the hype all these years later?
Located within the swanky Langham hotel that's tucked away behind Oxford Street, Artesian is the sort of place you’ll find local bartenders, guests who are staying the night and celebs hanging lowkey… all under one (very high) roof. On the Saturday evening we visited, there was a family seated to the right of us and a group of Saturday Night Live actors to the left. Two giant, gothic chandeliers take centre stage above the bar, while purple hues give the place its signature look.
The latest menu, Duality, is led by head bartender Giulia Cuccurullo and bar manager Lorenza Pezzetta. Each drink is part of a pair; think sun and moon, or right and wrong. Diving in with a palette cleanser, we led with Future (£13). Served in a test tube-esque receptacle and resting on a rock, it matched Suntory Roku gin, Cocchi Extra Dry vermouth and lemongrass with the odd combination of olive oil and enoki mushrooms. A strange, yet fresh mouthful.
For the main event, we opted for Amo (£26) and its counterpart Odi (£21). Inspired by the Roman poet Catullus, ‘love’ and ‘hate’ took commonly loved or hated ingredients to juxtapose with a classic cocktail. My partner Josh’s Amo was a twist on the negroni – one of the most popular drinks in the world – this time, using less favoured ingredients like blue cheese and Cynar, combined with Campari, Glenfiddich Grand Cru 23 YO and Artesian’s secret umami essence. My Odi took on the lesser loved Long Island, injecting notes of apple and melon. Through clarifying soy yoghurt (to separate the solid from the liquid) and combining the dehydrated powder with malic acid to form a sharp garnish, it was a tart contrast to the sweet mix of gin, calvados, discarded banana peel rum, watermelon and green tea.
As the sky turned from day to night, moody lamps create a hushed, romantic atmosphere around the room. Bar snacks by Humble Chicken's Angelo Sato provided the sustenance for our next round, with a velvety tuna tartare, Peking duck bao sliders and chunky buttermilk chicken karaage as the highlights. Josh’s Evil (£21) made use of often discarded components of wing, with the reject, passion fruit husks and Savoia Americano creating a complex base for Singleton of Dufftown 12 YO whiskey, Grand Marnier and Chambord. In the mood for something short and spirited, I chose Matter (£21); a caramelly blend of Mount Gay XO rum, Belsazar Riesling vermouth, dulce de leche and miso. Not one to do things by halves, Giulia garnished it with 3 tiny circles of orange, lemon and lime made using a hole punch. You just can’t knock the detail here.
The DesignMyNight Digest
The best bar in the world? Artesian is coming back for its crown. I don’t often spend over £20 on a cocktail, so when I do each sip better be worth it. Taking the concept of duality and serving it up with quality ingredients, the bar team have created a menu that any cocktail lover will want to try.
💰 The damage: around £130 for drinks and bar snacks for two.
📍 The location: The Langham, Portland Place.
👌 Perfect for: swanky hotel cocktails.
⭐ Need to know: make a day of it with an old-school afternoon tea next door.
Get to know the best cocktail bars around and sign up to our London newsletter for all the latest news and reviews.