If you thought a great drink was simply a matter of taste, think again. Hilda Hoy was utterly seduced by the concept and drinks at Fragrances, a perfume-inspired bar that takes mixology to the next level.
Fragrances: a vial of essential oils or a perfume-inspired cocktail bar?
B y the entrance to Fragrances is a quote from legendary perfumer Jean- Paul Guerlain: “Perfume is the most intense form of memory.” It’s a hint of what awaits in the Ritz Carlton’s incomparable cocktail bar, where drinks are inspired by a perfume and designed to stimulate every sense.
Enter the bar via its walk-through “menu,” where each drink is represented by a tester bottle of the perfume it’s based on, an artful still life of key ingredients, and a photo illustrating the final presentation, which ranges from playful – a milk bottle topped with foil – to whimsical, like a pink mug with a pig’s ear handle. That drink, inspired by Guerlain’s spicy-sweet Gourmand Coquin perfume, comes with a chocolate spoon for scooping the white chocolate foam floating on top. Below is a scrumptious blend of rum, rosewater, single malt scotch, and smoky lapsang souchong tea. It tastes uncannily similar to the sample of Gourmand Coquin that I sniff while I greedily slurp the frothy white chocolate with as much decorum as I can.
Fragrances is the creation of the Ritz Carlton’s bar manager Arnd Heißen, who not only came up with the one- of-akind concept, he also crafted every drink using his nose, creativity, and 10-plus years of bar experience. He replicated the aroma notes of his favorite perfumes into drinkable form: saffron was infused into rum, tonka beans were simmered into syrup with vanilla, rose petals were added to gin. Much as I loved the chocolate foam, my favorite drink was the one inspired by Penhaligon’s warm, homey Vaara perfume, where Heißen really let his creativity out to play. He blended pear puree, saffron rum, bourbon, rosewater, and magnolia-vanilla-honey syrup into a concoction served in a small wooden playhouse. Lift off the roof and out comes an aromatic puff of sandalwood smoke, which lingers in my nose with every sip and will linger in my memory for a great deal longer. Potsdamer Platz 3. T: 030 337777. www.ritzcarlton.com