The Negroni Experience review: get on the case, cocktail lovers
Classic cocktails and tasty treats are being served up at the Four Seasons in London
It’s not often that a suitcase catches your eye when you’re inside a hotel. Because, let’s be honest, you generally see them everywhere. From the lobby to the rooms, you’re never too far away from a piece of luggage.
Even in a hotel bar you’re likely to see the odd case or two. Usually next to a weary traveller who’s enjoying a drink on arrival or one for the road, or the skies, so to speak.
When walking into the swish Amaranto Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, there wasn’t a carry-on or check-in bag to be seen. There was, however, one suitcase that can only be described as the ideal travel companion for a cocktail lover.
The suitcase at the Four Seasons wasn’t full of rolled-up socks, travel toiletries or flip-flops though. Oh no, this one was packed full of booze – and in particular, bottles of gin.
We paid a visit to the Four Seasons to try “The Negroni Experience”, one of the popular items on the menu at Amaranto. And on arrival the first thing you see is the bar’s negroni trolley, which has been made from a vintage suitcase. It has all the ingredients needed to make the classic cocktail – and to make a unique experience.
The negroni trolley was the idea of Ivan Arena, bar manager and mixologist at Amaranto. After wheeling the trolley to our table, he explained the inspiration behind the custom-made creation and set out to mix the first creations of the night.
What’s on the menu?
A simple yet tasty cocktail, Italian aperitif negroni is traditionally made with three ingredients: one part gin, one part vermouth, one part Campari, and often garnished with an orange peel.
The menu at Amaranto features a range of negronis created by Arena and his fellow bar staff. The unique touch here is the special house blend of six vermouths which are aged for two weeks in an oak barrel, found on top of the iconic trolley.
Served in a mini vintage suitcase, “Count Camillo’s Travels” (£33) is a duo of negroni cocktails – “Il Conte” and “The British”. Il Conte is a classic negroni with Campari, a blend of six red vermouths and a choice of gin. The British features Sipsmith London Dry and Sloe gin, which is then stirred with an Aperol blend of six red vermouths and fresh blueberries.
If you’re a whiskey fan, then the “Elegante” is a must-try. This negroni combines Woodford Rye, Maker’s 46 Bourbon and stirred with Campari, Barolo Chinato, chocolate liqueur and bitters.
The highlight of the evening was the “Smoke Signal” (£20). Served underneath a glass bell jar, this innovative negroni includes Ilegal Mezcal Reposado, Campari rich cherry wine, coffee liquor and is finished with Laphroaig Lore and a smoky scent. Adding a touch of theatre to the whole experience, this was a real show-stopper.
Hotel bars used to have a bad rep for being dingy places serving up substandard fodder. But times have changed, especially in the top hotels. With its deep red theme, snazzy bar area and glass walls filled with wine bottles, Amaranto is a stylish place for a night out.
All this quaffing can’t be done on an empty stomach either – and the food from the kitchen was as tasty as the drinks from the trolley. Indulging too much, we enjoyed a range of sharing plates and nibbles, including lobster risotto (£14), Taleggio cheese croquettes with spiced cranberry marmalade (£8) and Wagyu beef sliders (£27).
With delicious negronis and food being served, the whole evening was excellent and Amaranto Bar makes a great hangout for a celebratory occasion or even an after-work tipple.
The negroni experience is something that every cocktail lover should try. There was only one downside of the night though… not being able to jet off with that iconic trolley.
Amaranto Bar, Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, Hamilton Pl, London W1J 7DR; fourseasons.com