The Savoy's Inimitable Erik Lorincz
If you’re going to interview a world champion mixologist, you can’t beat The Savoy as a venue. A key part of The Strand since the late 1800s, this is basically the founding place of cocktails as we know them today, thanks to the arrival of Harry Craddock in the 1920s. Craddock came here from the USA to escape Prohibition and today – almost a century later – is still heralded as the man who gave the world the bar-tending bible that is 'The Savoy Cocktail Book'.
I’m here to meet Head Bartender of the American Bar, Erik Lorincz: a man who has enjoyed a flurry of success in the past few years, winning numerous competitions and titles, including ‘Diageo World Class Champion’ in 2010.
Lorincz was offered his current job at the American Bar over hundreds of other applicants and he didn’t’ even apply: “I just got a call from my boss saying to be ready because someone is hunting you,” he tells me. “When he said The Savoy was interested, I was like wow, that’s a big one.”
"The American Bar is known for its original drinks created by over a century’s worth of head bartenders."
Erik has handled all of the attention with modesty and a dedicated focus on his work: “When I look back at the bartenders who were working here in the past, they’re all legends and to follow them I need to work even harder. The American Bar is such an iconic place for cocktails, so I need to make sure that this place is still on the map and still recognized as a place to enjoy great drinks.”
When I’m offered a cocktail, I’m not sure what to order. The American Bar is known for its original drinks created by over a century’s worth of head bartenders, but I simply don’t know where to start. I ask Erik for a recommendation and, after I confess that I have a weakness for sweet, fruity drinks, he orders me The Restoration, a drink he himself crated to commemorate The American Bar’s reopening in 2010.
Lorincz excitedly explains: “Harry Craddock, was a man who made cocktails for every single occasion. When it was a Leap Year, he created a Leap Year cocktail. Another legend, Joe Gilmore created the Moonwalk, when Neil Armstrong, walked on the Moon. So I’m doing the same thing.”
"..I was working all night to fill up the fountain with 360 litres of the cocktail."
For last year’s Diamond Jubilee, Lorincz was commissioned to create not just a cocktail for the occasion but a special cocktail experience for The Savoy’s party in honour of the historical date. Lorincz had his managers meet him in the lobby of The Savoy to tell them what he had planned, although they were very confused when he took them outside instead of into the bar. The Head Bartender had devised a plan to serve his special Diamond Jubilee cocktail out of the fountain in front of The Savoy’s main entrance: “It’s an amazing, beautiful fountain. Serving the punch, from it was truly amazing.”
Behind every great party, however, are endless hours of preparation: “It took me one day to put this whole cocktail together, so I was working all night to fill up the fountain with 360 litres of the cocktail. We closed the street and we invited 120 guests, so it was a big street party, and you could come with a cup and just scoop it out.”
My drink actually arrives as our interview is coming to a close. Beautifully presented and topped off with a cherry and sprig of mint, the Restoration is a delicious and refreshing blend of gin, champagne, cherries, cinnamon and more. Erik stays and sits with me while I sip on my beverage, as we chat more about his travels, his homeland of Slovakia, and why he chose to study English at university (it was to help his future in bartending). Before I know it I’m down to the bottom of the glass and it’s time to say ‘Dovidenia’ and walk back out into the hustle and bustle of a busy London afternoon. After just my brief time at The Savoy, you can mark me down as a believer - Erik Lorincz is a world-class act.
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