The American Bar at The Savoy has produced many world-class bartenders. But none, I imagine, with as many awards as Erik Lorincz. During his eight years as head bartender, this Brylcreemed, sharp-suited Slovakian won every industry gong going several times over, and catapulted his bar to the number one spot on World’s Best Bars.
Lorincz retired his Savoy tux in 2018 and now runs his very own place in Mayfair, a glitzy little joint called Kwant. Secreted away in the basement of the recently revamped Momo restaurant, Kwant (pronounced “quaint”) is a luxurious combination of tiki kitsch and old-time, Casablanca glamour. Lighting is low, palm prints abound and guests recline on a mix of bamboo, velvet and creamy white leather. There’s a piano in one corner, while in the other, five bar stools wait for a date at the spotlit, black-lacquer bar.
Lorincz has poured himself into every detail of this place. Cocktails are served in paper-thin, hand-blown glassware that Lorincz designed himself; every piece of ice is hand-cut; the bartenders’ collarless jackets are also his own design. A Savoya Fizz is scented with bergamot essence, created in collaboration with cult Italian perfumer Meo Fusciuni. And there is a profusion of homemade ingredients – a creamy vodka cocktail comes scented with honey infused with oolong tea. Savoury flavours, herbs and even vegetables give some drinks an unexpected and appetising twist. I loved the Hacienda, a mezcal cocktail with a brilliant raspberry-red colour imparted by purple carrot. Another drink that’s been lighting up Instagram is the Green Pony, a tall gin cocktail the colour of charcoal, which is shaken with spirulina and topped by a tiny tangle of pea shoots. Every drink is executed with Lorincz’s hallmark, immaculate precision.
If you’re vegan, teetotal or avoiding sugar, this menu has got you covered. But it also caters for those with more old-school tastes. The Sunflower Martini is excellent. And there is always a whisky and soda made with Japanese whisky, on tap. On one wall, in a cabinet, is Lorincz’s collection of rare spirits: Bacardi distilled during the Cuban revolution; vintage Campari cordials; 1950s Tanqueray; and old-time American rye. All these are available as a cocktail, but I can’t help feeling it would be a crime to drink a Bisquit Dubouché cognac from 1904 any way except neat.
I asked what Lorincz learnt during his time at The Savoy and he replied: “A great bar always starts with the people who work at the bar.” If that’s the case, then Kwant’s guests have come to the right place.
Alice Lascelles is Fortnum & Mason Drinks Writer of the Year 2019. @alicelascelles.