By Lorenzo Antinori from Charles H. Bar at the Four Seasons hotel, Seoul
Illustrated by Rick Kim

The idea for this project came up last year as I was approaching my 30th birthday. Not that I have ever paid much attention to age or birthdays for that matter, but this year it just so happened that my 30th coincided with the 30th anniversary of the passing of Charles H. Baker Jr, the man whose name sits above the door of our bar here in Seoul. A coincidence? Perhaps but one that was too good to pass up.

Time is good for some things, like wisdom and sometimes the ageing of booze. However, it can be tough on things like wrinkles and even cocktail recipes…

So the initial geeky plan or ‘birthday present’ to myself, was for me and my team to revise the whole of author Charles H. Jnr’s The Gentleman’s Companion – regarded by many as one of the best cocktails books ever written – and look at how those recipes would have tasted today; whether or not they would have survived the test of time.

However, I realised that was a little too nerdy, and not original at all…

Lorenzo behind Charles H bar

Instead I decided to get a team of Charles’ friends together and ask them to reproduce his recipes, expressing their own creative approach and hopefully building a beautiful tapestry of experiences and backgrounds.

During his travels Charles was always inspired by a sense of adventure and curiosity, and in particular, a love for diversity. He didn’t simply document that Absinthe Frappe which he drank in Paris, the Scorpion Bowl he had in Argentina or the fancy cocktails that he enjoyed at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York; he was talking about the places and their people. Behind every drink there was a story and a bartender.

The conversations that follow over the next few weeks are a love letter to Charles H Baker Jr. and his works, and I’d like to think that wherever he is now, he would have smiled reading them, thinking that maybe time doesn’t have to be so tough after all.

Check in each week for interviews and recipes inspired by Charles H. Baker Jnr from St. John Frizell, Iain Griffiths, Philip Bischoff, Sullivan Doh, Chris Lowder, Chris Hannah and Yao Lu.


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