The Langham Hotel has been delighting and dazzling the rich, famous and downright fabulous since 1865, when it made its mark on Europe as the first ‘Grand Hotel’. Within its luxurious walls lies the Artesian Bar, a decadent drinking den with such attention to detail that even the ice cubes are specially made (so they last longer) and carved (in case you forget what letter ‘Artesian’ begins with). The man at the helm is bar manager Alex Kratena; having worked on three different continents in bars of all shapes and sizes — from strip clubs to luxury hotels — Hg2 couldn’t wait to sit down with him and chat about life, style and, of course, the perfect cocktail.
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How would you describe your signature style? A lot of fun, entertaining presentation style and, from a technical point of view, a combination of tradition and invention.
What is your favourite feature of your bar, and what makes it stand out from the crowd? Artesian is chic, sexy and deeply glamorous, but it’s the people who work here that make it stand out from the crowd!
How would you describe London’s current bar scene, and has it changed in recent years? It’s never been more exciting, with so many different styles and so many different places. Some say we are experiencing a second golden age of cocktailing – it’s amazing!
What details do you like and dislike seeing at a bar? Hate bad service and poor hygiene/love everything else about bars!
What has been your most hedonistic bar experience yet? You won’t be able to publish it…
How would you describe the perfect cocktail? Something that captures all senses — and one served at the right place, at the right time.
In London, what is your favourite…
Restaurant? L’Atelier Joel Robuchon.
Bar (aside from your own)? I don’t go to bars — I go to see my favourite bartenders….
Cultural must-see? Burlesque show.
If you weren’t in London, where would you be? On the beach!
What is most outlandish drink request you’ve ever received? ‘Alex, can I get shot of Jägermeister and a bottle of Cristal for your team. please?’
Best cocktail: shaken or blended? The best cocktail in the world is the one you like most — at the end of the day you have to pay for it. Unless you are gorgeous lady, then it’s on me!
Come up with a cocktail just for Hg2 – something truly hedonistic and bespoke:
‘SPONTANEITY’ – the drink you never knew you wanted….
60ml Gin of your choice
30ml Velvet Falernum
2pcs Green Shiso leaf
2dash Peychaud’s bitters
25ml Fresh lime juice
1dash Sesame oil
Method: Shaker/ Double strain.
Garnish: Float of sesame oil.