The most famous grand hotel ever is probably The Savoy. The most famous chef ever is probably Auguste Escoffier. His most famous dish ever is probably the Peach Melba, created in The Savoy – as it so happens – where it was initially rolled out on a swan made out of ice.
So, for The Savoy’s Executive Pastry Chef Ludwig Hely, no pressure then. Keeping in line with the beautiful new cocktail menu recently launched for the iconic American Bar at The Savoy, Hely has taken a cue from Escoffier’s unbridled theatricality, with desserts at the Thames Foyer arriving on everything from hunks of crystal clear ice to cacao leaves, disguised as things they are not (vanilla ice cream moulded in Tex Avery-style sticks of dynamite) or things they kind of are (63% Gran Blanco dark chocolate done multiple ways sheathed in a hyperrealistic cacao pod).
This selection of show-stopping puddings are detailed on a mahogany ‘Temptation Wheel’ with accompanying magnifying glass, each matched with a ‘starter’ of a luxurious slab of chocolate, and – not to be outdone by the American Bar – a range of simple but indulgent cocktails created and matched by the charming Chris Moore, former head bartender of The Savoy’s Beaufort Bar. These cocktails are wheeled out on one of the prettiest cocktails trolleys I have had the pleasure of lusting after, with all manner of ingredients complimenting and contrasting the flavours of one’s mini masterpieces.
Whether or not the ‘Life Is Made From This’ cocktail somehow refers to country crooner Jim Ed Brown’s soft song of the same name is uncertain, but amongst all this indulgence sometimes it is often the simple things in life… and I was most taken by the simplicity of this drink. Lashings of toffee and caramel notes with an underlying toasted-wood dryness of Woodford Reserve’s excellent and dangerously quaffable ‘Double Oaked’ bourbon being offset perfectly by hints of apricot and a whisper of blackberry.
Of the desserts it is with little surprise that Chef Hely pulled out all the stops for his reinterpretation of Escoffier’s classic. The ‘Peach Melba Legacy’ also relied on the simple tried-and-tested flavour combination of peach, raspberry and vanilla, but encased in a fairy-tale blown sugar golden peach, this was a head-turner one could almost hear Escoffier grunting approval of.
Visit www.fairmont.com/savoy for details.
Julian de Féral is an award-winning bartender-turned international drinks consultant and occasional raconteur.