In the heart of Covent Garden, Scarfes Bar inside the Rosewood London is a menagerie of antique books, rich velvet, the hum of jazz throughout the week, and a menu decorated with caricatures of the United Kingdom’s most famed faces from the past and present, all set against a roaring fire; needless to say, this place is a sensory treat (and we haven’t even gotten to the drinks yet).
Whimsy is the name of the game when it comes to Scarfes Bar’s illustrated menu, mirroring the works of artist Gerald Scarfe that adorn the walls. Each cocktail is inspired by a different icon and infused with wit and brought to life by recently appointed Head Bartender Yann Bouvignies and his team. Bouvignies, a native of the south of France, joined the Scarfes Bar team just over two years ago after cutting his teeth at the likes of Purl and The Connaught; he gives us an inside look at one of the current menu’s most adored (and Instagrammed) drinks. “Our inspiration behind the creation of [the Neck It] cocktail stemmed from the success of acclaimed business magnate, Sir Richard Branson, and his achievement of the title ‘Most Influential British Entrepreneur’ in 2015. The drink is a twist on a classical Mai Tai, based on his privately owned Necker Island, which also influenced the title of the drink, a play-on-words with the island’s name and the British phrase ‘to neck a drink,’” he shares.
So what goes into a Mai Tai channeling all the facets of one of the world’s most celebrated entrepreneurs and his very own island? Bouvignies continues: “To represent the tropical nature of the luxury island, we incorporated a blend of Zacapa 23 rum and Redbreast Lustau whisky with banana wine, which we prepare in our on-site laboratory through the fermentation of fresh bananas for 7-10 days. Accompanying this is a covert fig leaf liqueur based on cognac and honey, together with a marzipan horchata which is based on the Indian sweet Barfi and combines almond and spices, with a citrus element to balance the flavours.”
Should you find yourself at home with a fair amount of extra time on your hands (and a good deal of ambition), take a stab at this tropical wonder with the full recipe straight from the Scarfes Bar archives.
NECK IT: (inspired by Sir Richard Branson)
30ml Zacapa 23 Rum
20ml Redbreast Lustau whiskey
15ml Audemus Covert fig leaf liqueur
40ml Banana wine
25ml Marzipan horchata*
15ml Fresh lime juice
Cardamom leaves (garnish)
Dried banana chips (garnish)
Preparation: Shake all ingredients with ice; fine strain into a chilled highball glass and top with crushed ice. Garnish with cardamom leaves and dried banana.
*Marzipan Horchata (1150ml; keeps for one week in refrigerator)
350gr pistachio barfi (available in Indian shops)
300gr marzipan paste
700ml almond milk
100gr caster sugar
Preparation: Combine all ingredients in blender and blitz all together until smooth. Fine strain into a glass bottle for usage and/or refrigerator storage (this can also be consumed on its own over ice).
Main image credit: Addie Chin