Tonight, barflies can sidle up for a spot at the bar and enjoy cocktails made by world-renowned bartender Alex Kratena, including a new signature - It Didn't Work Out This Time - whisky cocktail.
The 33-year-old Czech barman, who heads the world's No. 1 bar Artesian at Langham hotel in London, is in town for a guest bartending shift at Regent Singapore's Manhattan bar, which is celebrating its first anniversary.
Kratena, voted Best International Bartender at the Tales of the Cocktail global awards in 2012, will be bartending at Manhattan alongside George Nemec, the global brand ambassador for Becherovka herbal liqueur. Both barmen will be serving three speciality cocktails each this evening.
Kratena is credited for reinventing the traditional five-star hotel bar experience, taking it from what is usually deemed corporate and boring to bold and creative in his approach to cocktails.
Among his memorable cocktails are a rum-based drink that comes with a garnish in the form of a floating plastic pillow filled with eucalyptus scent and small Guatemalan dolls, and his Super Panda cocktail, which is served on top of an inflated panda lantern filled with a tangerine aroma.
He tells Life! over the telephone from London that it is okay to be "over the top and to keep on pushing" because that gives one plenty of room to experiment and come up with great tipple.
"I think it would be silly or a shame to say to ourselves that this is a boundary and we have to stay behind it," he says.
"As long as it's not gimmicky and as long as it adds something interesting to a drink and brings something new, then it's worth doing." The bachelor got his start in bartending when he was 16 and has worked in New York and Tokyo, bartending in all types of nightspots, including strip bars and dance clubs.
Eight years ago, he and his team set up Artesian, which has since won many bar accolades. Last October, Artesian took the No. 1 spot for the third year in a row in the World's 50 Best Bar Awards by Drinks International.
It won World's Best Bar and World's Best Bar Team awards at the international bar competition Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards last year.
He credits the success to "not ever having a concept, a place where we can do whatever we want".
He adds: "We have a great deal of freedom and we appreciate it. We've had to hit targets, but we've proven ourselves over the years by consistently delivering great products."
Inspiration for his drinks, he says, comes from "everywhere, whether it's art, design, language, literature, people - all these things can make drinks interesting and exciting".
Visitors to Artesian in London can sample his new cocktails from July. Some of the recipes are taken from the Surrealist artist Salvador Dali's erotic cookbook, Les Diners De Gala.
For his stint at Manhattan here, Kratena will be serving three drinks including It Didn't Work Out This Time, a barrel-aged cocktail that mixes whisky, gentian liqueur, cocchi Americano and verjus.
The cocktails will be priced at $25++.
This article was first published on April 10, 2015.
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