Smouldering, rouge, velvet, tactile, sensual, masculine, feverish, sinful, provocative: the Bar at Amaranto is truly devilish in design and, as we were to find out, the Devil was a technical mastermind.
After the drinking escapades of Qin and I at The Artesian at The Langham and Bar Boulud at The Mandarin, we now found ourselves in the luxuriously renovated Four Seasons, Park Lane, in the Amaranto Bar and Lounge. Designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon the restaurant and bar are, as Alex described previously, “a cross between a Far Eastern tea palace and an Edwardian bordello”, elegant with an overtone of seduction.
Qin and I settled in to our table, next to the roaring fire, ready to meet the Devil behind the bar, the virtuoso Davide Guidi. The detail of the cocktails at Amaranto are taken to a new level; all elements of the drinks are designed in-house; the spirits, garnishes and even the glasses are designed by Davide himself. The menu is based around the Italian influence of the restaurant with a whole section devoted to Negronis, so naturally I started with the Negroni Sbagliato, a wonderful and delightfully refreshing twist of a traditional Negroni with Prosecco, a fabulous start to a full fun-packed evening.
Qin opted for a Pear and Cinnamon Martini, not on the menu but, ever the professional, Davide recommended the cocktail when Qin explained she preferred fruiter cocktials. The cocktail arrived and was stunning, presented with a fan of pear on the rim, it was juicy and fresh, a taste of summer in a glass. In comparison, my Negroni Sbagliato was strong but, as anyone knows, I am not one for girly cocktails so it suited me to a tee.
Next up we both decided to go with the Martini section; there is a Martini for everyone’s taste at Amaranto from the fragrant to the feisty. Qin chose the Snow Apple Martini (presently not on the menu as a Winter creation) while I decided to jump into the Martini deep-end and try the Hamilton Place Gold Martini. Qin’s Martini is delicate with a frothy top and a apple lattice garnish, a very pretty drink and another thumbs up from Qin. My Martini was a true spectacle, made at the table using a Martini trolley and gold cocktail shaker by the cocktail craftsman Davide: mixing Roberto Cavalli vodka, infused in-house with edible gold, Dolce and Gabbana Martini Vermouth and a twist of bitter orange – this is a true fashionistas drink. Now this cocktail packs a punch, strong and straight up, just how I like my Martinis but this is not a drink for the faint hearted so, if Martinis are not your thing, you should opt for a more fruity variety.
We now moved on to more traditional cocktails but at Amaranto nothing is too traditional and there are always slight modifications to the ingredients or the method in which the drink is made or garnished. We ordered the Grand Margarita and Winter Manhattan (also a seasonal cocktail like the Snow Apple Martini) and, although both are based on well known cocktails, neither were what one would expect. The Grand Margarita, served on the rocks and designed by Davide, comes with a salt rim and is infused with fresh orange giving a wonderfully fresh and aromatic angle to the drink. The Winter Manhattan, which is a concoction of six vermouths, mixed with coffee, cinnamon and garnished with a chocolate straw, is a warm, muscular drink, perfect as an after dinner chaser.
We then took a break in our cocktail campaign to visit the kitchens with Head Chef Davide Degiovanni and be shown round the Wine Room with Sommelier Rafael Peil, where we tasted a fine rosé Franciacort and had to chance to compare this Italian sparkling wine to rosé Champagne, I am glad to say, and defending my Champagne Charlie title, I managed to identify the champagne over the Franciacort. The staff at Amaranto and The Four Seasons, are in my opinion second to none, demonstrated in the fact that the knowledgable Rafael emailed me about the enquiry I made about Austrian wine after our night at Amaranto including, not only with the name of the wines he recommended, but where to find them in London which is beyond customer service.
Qin and I settled back in to our seat and ordered a night cap, namely my favourite cocktail, the Espresso Martini. Perfectly shaken, with rum instead of vodka, just as it should be made, with a garnish of espresso beans. Sipping my Martini, I reflected on the night and my surroundings. Amaranto is a melting pot of demonic design, stupendous staff, clever cocktails and at the helm a true master, the Devil in disguise, Davide Guidi. Beware – you may never want to leave.
Four Seasons Park Lane
Hamilton Place, Park Lane
London, W1J 7DR