Anna Sebastian and Remy Savage, running things at the Artesian from 1st November
It was always going to be tricky filling the gaping Alex Kratena/Simone Caporale/Roman Foltan/Rudi Carraro-shaped hole left at The Artesian. To get even close to the dizzying heights achieved during their tenure (four times numero uno on The World’s 50 Best Bars List, Most Influential European Bar and World’s Best Hotel Bar, the list goes on), it would take someone well known and even more than that, really respected in the industry – not just on a local level but globally as well. The ideal candidate would need to be liked, brimming with bright ideas, have a strong creative vision and passion for their craft, possess their own distinct style and perhaps most importantly be motivated, not intimidated by what went before. It’s a mother of a list and it may have taken just short of two years to get it right but by golly, we think they’ve gone and done it.
Ladies and gents, please be upstanding for the new Head Bartender at the Artesian, Monsieur Remy Savage, formerly of Little Red Door in Paris. And we couldn’t be more delighted to (officially) announce the news. Those like us who know him will definitely have 1c Portland Place back on their radar; those who don’t, well, let’s put it this way, you soon will do as we’re laying money down that he’s going to bring the mojo back to the lush David Collins Studio designed room.
Mind you, it’s not about one person. As the saying goes, teamwork makes the dream work. And Remy has got one of the best in the business to ensure that adage rings true. Joining him as Bar Manager will be Anna Sebastian, formerly of the Beaufort Bar at the Savoy, rightly regarded as the queen of hospitality.
That’s the background, now on to the nitty-gritty. We caught up with Remy to talk new menus, new teams and new visions for the Artesian.
I loved the Artesian, everyone did
Which is why taking on the Head Bartender role is going to be a challenge – those are very big shoes to fill. But that’s what I find really exciting. That and the fact that it’s an incredible project. The venue is about to change significantly in details and style of service. I’m looking forward to people coming back or at least being interested in what we’re doing.
I got the call around a month ago
It was quite relaxed actually. I knew that they were talking to a few people and even though being in London was on my mind, I wasn’t really looking for a job and hotels were never part of the equation. I’ve worked in Irish pubs and cocktail bars – hotels are completely new to me so there’s a part of me that’s absolutely terrified but mostly I’m incredibly excited about getting started.
There were a couple of things that convinced me to take the role
Having the creative freedom from liquid to design was important but choosing my number two was vital. I’m super excited, happy and proud to have Emilio Di Salvo from Little Red Door joining me in that role, he’s my absolute favourite person to work with. We’ll also have a few people from London who will be announced at a later date. And of course, there’s Anna Sebastian who is absolutely awesome. We’ve got a wonderful team in a fabulous bar and it’s going to have a really good vibe.
For me, Artesian is a platform for people to express their creativity
That’s the way they approached me and what made me accept the job. Let’s face it, it’s very flattering for someone to say “Remy, we want you to come and do some Remy here.” They want to give people the tools to do something creative, not what’s been done before – they want the drinks of tomorrow. That may sound ambitious, pretentious even but they’re looking for new stuff, which definitely appeals to me with my philosophy background and love of concepts.
There’s definitely room in this industry to be playful
You can go as far as you want with concepts as long as the delivery is super-friendly. This is something we’ll be focusing on: the service and hospitality side of things. We’ll have a few concept serves but they’re going to be relevant, not just there for the sake of it. The important thing for me is that the service won’t be any different to the relaxed style we had at Little Red Door.
Our first menu launches on 1st December
It’s all about classics which is not what people will expect from me as I’ve never really done classic cocktails before. But I’ll be bringing the notion of extentionalism into the mix – the idea of terroir, how flavours differ and what impact environment plays in drinks, so classics with the idea of terroir and provenance.
On March 1st I’ll follow up with the menu I’ve always wanted to do but never had the budget for
I’ve already started working on it. I’ve got designs on my walls and it’s hard work but so exciting to have the opportunity and backing to make it a reality. Don’t get me wrong, I had such creative freedom at Little Red Door but I’m now working with 10 times the budget which is absolutely incredible.
We’ll be serving free welcome drinks, not as a gimmick but to perform a function
I have no control over what you’ve done before you walk into the bar, maybe you’ve had a cigar or a cake or lobster – this will have a massive impact on the way you approach flavour. The welcome drink will be created to neutralise the palate, to make your drinking better. We’ll be using oil because it naturally breaks down the acid in the stomach and adding different types of chlorophyll to neutralise, and an element of bitterness for that aperitif aspect you need in a welcome drink. Besides, statistical research shows that people tend to like their second drink more than their first, so why should you for your first one?
We’re going to have a fun uniform
Anna and I are designing them. When I started at Little Red Door, people were wearing hats and t-shirts and I rocked up in my grandmas apron. It was based on the idea that bartenders had full tattoo sleeves and moustaches, making the guests feel that they didn’t belong in the bars, then there was me in this stupid apron – it made me relatable and the whole team started to wear them. I want people to feel comfy wearing what they want to wear.
I’m going to be behind the bar 48 hours a week
And I’m really looking forward to it. Over the years at Little Red Door I’d been doing more operational stuff but at Artesian, Anna will be taking care of that side and I can do what I love: being behind the bar serving people and interacting with regulars.
I’m very sad to leave Little Red Door and it will always be part of who I am and what I do
But when I’m at Artesian I’m going to do Remy, not Little Red Door.
Remy Savage will be heading up the bar at the Artesian from 1st November. See you all there.
Artesian, 1c Portland Place, London W1B 1JA. artesian-bar.co.uk