The Last Carnival – The Concept Behind the Cocktails
The Last Carnival is without a shadow of a doubt the most exciting, innovative and ambitious menu Hyde & Co has ever created. Through the medium of cocktails the menu tells the story of a troubled private investigator in the midst of a new case, as he encounters mob activity, a new Jazz age and a grisly murder. And whilst the visually stunning menu and the expertly crafted cocktails speak for themselves when it comes to the talent and creativity of our team, we thought we’d let Oz and James tell us a little more about the creative thinking behind it.
- What’s trending in the industry?
- What’s seen its day and need revamping?
- How can we hold a strong concept but still make things accessible to a wide audience?
- The personal touches of the team e.g. Oz’s love for tea has to have a place and I like to impart colour and flavour through interesting dusts to garnish a drink.
Our previous menu had a timeline of a day of drinking, rather than the standard section style menu that people are used to. This was to encourage people to not pigeonhole themselves into one style of drink every time they order.
We liked this style of ordering so we stuck with it. Next we thought, what has a simple timeline but is also really interesting and fun. A comic book.
Once we’d decided on the comic book style we looked at other aspects that might help fill out the idea. Oz knew of an old Victorian throw away comic called Penny Dreadful, so we began think of how we could make that style fit with our bar.
As New Orleans is one of the historical landmarks of cocktails and drinks history it was the perfect fit. It wasn’t a new concept but was a good foundation for us to put our Hyde twist on and we looked at other menus we could use as inspiration. This was the basis for ours.
Bar manager Oz was a big fan of author Raymond Chandler’s style of narrative so we took a lead from that. The story itself was a real collaboration between bartenders from across the group, working on the basis of something that was both easy to read, fun, cool and not too heavy.
Michael Presley-Sharpe from The Milk Thistle was the wordsmith behind the story and Gareth Aldridge from The Milk Thistle was the creative genius behind the beautiful artwork.
The menu fuses artwork, story and drinks into more of an interesting experimental piece. The collage style of the menu involved cutting together 30-40 photos (hands, heads, hats, background pieces), then overlaying various textures to blend everything together. The idea was to get an almost eroded feel to the images, while still showing off the house colours of New Orleans (Purple, Green, Gold). Each page (including edits, updates and story changes) took about 8 hours to produce.
A lot of the artwork style was inspired by Tarot cards. Specific references to certain cards are hidden throughout the menu. Lucille, our heroine, was surrounded by Lilies in every picture of her; the flower of new orleans and the story is told to be read in a hard-boiled detective voice (it sounds much better that way!)
For the drinks itself we both like the phrase “feed the eyes and the mouth shall follow” so with that in mind every drink has to look beautiful.
The next bit that is really important is the wording of the ingredients. Like this.
Drink 1. Drink 2.
Cream Distilled Rhum Cream washed Rhum
Creme de Cacao Chocolate
Creme de Banane Banana
Branca Menta Mint
Reading meus can be daunting for anyone but especially someone who doesn’t often drink cocktails. In an effort to put the customer at ease we word our drinks with the base ingredient then the flavours you will find in the drink after. I think you’ll agree that Drink 2. looks the more approachable of the two.
The Last Carnival launches officially on Tuesday 28th February, which is fittingly known as Fat Tuesday, the last day of Mardi-Gras in New Orleans. If you’d like to come in and try it you can book a table by dropping us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.