Award-winning bartender and TWISPER ambassador Erik Lorincz on his ideal bar, why he loves getting creative with umami flavours, and where to drink in London, the city he now calls home.
Where to drink in London with Erik Lorincz
When Erik Lorincz told his parents he was leaving home at the age of 21 to attend a bar academy in the Czech Republic, his mum was dismayed. “What’s going to happen, then?” she asked. “There are no cocktail bars here in Slovakia,” she’d said. It turns out Erik had much bigger plans. After following his dream from Nitra to Prague to Bratislava to London, award-winning bartender Erik now calls the latter home, adding ‘bar owner’ to his credentials with the 2019 opening of Kwānt in Mayfair.
The first thing I did when I arrived in London in 2004 was buy a bar guide and start crossing them off the list as I visited them. I’d come to learn English and my first job here was in a nightclub collecting glasses and cleaning ashtrays.
It took me until 2010 to open my own bar: Kwānt. The bar is like a sophisticated speakeasy with a tropical atmosphere. It was important to me to create a place where you can go for a good time and five-star service without the fuss and formality. The drinks are also very creative because I’ve built a laboratory inside the bar.
I love bars that work with the seasons.
My friend Alex Kretana has a bar on Old Street called Tayer + Elementary. Their focus is on seasonal ingredients and working with top chefs, which means an ever-changing menu. There’s also Scout in Hackney, part bar, part sustainability lab, with a focus on local ingredients — think foliage foraged from Hackney Marshes.
There are so many great bars and restaurants in London. My ideal night out would start in the Artesian Bar in the Langham Hotel, before strolling down to this cool little place called Chucs. It’s a real hidden gem in Mayfair serving up amazing Italian cuisine.
My favorite recent discovery is Louie in Covent Garden. They have amazing oysters and do a brilliant dry martini (not to mention a fabulous Seven Tails Old Fashioned). When I run out of inspiration, TWISPER is an ideal tool to discover new places around London because all of the recommendations are genuine and trustworthy.
I’m currently working with a lot of umami flavors. Black miso-based distillate, salted maple syrup, dried mushrooms infused in Campari or sweet vermouth… I’m drawn to things that aren’t obvious as cocktail ingredients at first. I’ve never had spirulina in a drink, for example, but I have it for breakfast, so why not.
I came to London for six months and 16 years later, I’m still here. When I arrived, the city felt so cosmopolitan, energetic and vibrant — you could find inspiration anywhere. Today, that hasn’t changed.
Article featured in National Geographic TRAVELLER.