Earlier this week Hg2 got a glimpse into the world of Viajante when we chatted to chef patron and all-round culinary superstar Nuno Mendes (read the interview here). And we have to admit, we got a bit greedy — we wanted more. Much more. So we tracked down bartender Warren Lee, cocktail extraordinaire, and delved a little deeper; the perfect cocktail, the weirdest drink, the sexiest glassware — yes, we know it all.
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How would you describe your signature style? My signature style is a bit wacky with a harmonious blend of classic old-school and a modern twist. I have been influenced from being around such great industry people; amongst others, Alan Yau at Hakkasan, Hiroki Takemura at Taman Gang and now Nuno Mendes at Viajante. It has been an incredible journey for me, and I can only hope it continues.
What is your favourite feature of your bar, and what makes it stand out from the crowd? Definitely the island glass bar with an unusual, but beautiful chandelier. Only in East London would you find a bar like ours housed in such a grand building.
How would you describe London’s current bar scene, and has it changed in recent years? The up-and-coming talent is exceptional and I believe there will be a whole new level of drinks in the near future. However, we need to ensure these raw talents are given all that is required to progress.
What details do you like and dislike seeing at a bar? Cleanliness and a good positioning of the bar are essential. Cocktail equipment, layout and good setup of the bar is also important, but sexy vintage glassware is my guilty pleasure. I dislike seeing unhappy staff. This only leads to poor service and a bad experience. ‘Know it all’s’ can be quite offensive, especially seeing as we are all yet to learn something new.
What has been your most hedonistic bar experience yet? When I was at William Grant and Sons Ltd. we used to throw Monkey Shoulder poker nights. For those that were there… what happens at poker nights, stays at poker nights!
How would you describe the perfect cocktail? A cocktail that takes you on a journey with both flavours and aromas. Combining an art of blending all your ingredients, to bring out a unique yet welcoming flavor.
In London, what is your favourite…
Restaurant? Zuma; the sushi chef, Endo, is amazing!
Bar (aside from your own)? 69 Colebrooke Row. The drinks are very creative, and I love the attention to detail, along with the vintage glassware.
Club? Little Branch, New York – Sasha from Milk & Honey has a small, but classic establishment in Downtown.
Cultural must-see? British Museums and West-End shows.
If you weren’t in London, where would you be? If I wasn’t in London, I would be a game ranger in a national park.
What is most outlandish drink request you’ve ever received? A non-alcoholic margarita. Wow.
Best cocktail: shaken or blended? Depending on my surroundings, a daiquri with Wray & Nephew 17yr (if you have any), fresh lime juice and sugar cane syrup (home-made), and probably shaken. However, if I was on a Caribbean beach, I would definitely have it blended!