The “Classics Perfected” cocktail program at Fairmont Hotels is a collaborative effort between the leading beverage directors from the brand’s 70+ properties (including The Plaza Hotel in New York City; The Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown; and The Fairmont Heritage Place, Ghiradelli Square) around the globe. This year, the menu’s theme is entitled “The Decades”—specifically touching upon those of the 19th and 20th centuries—featuring reinvented beloved drinks of yore.
Jo Last, bartender at the Beaufort Bar at The Savoy in London, was a part of a team of six bartenders who turned classics like the Corpse Reviver and the Mai Tai on their heads, giving them a new-age spin. The Carte Blanche is reminiscent of the James Bond favorite Vesper, featuring a mix of equal parts of Bombay Sapphire gin, Grey Goose vodka and New World Chardonnay—shaken, not stirred, obviously.
The 27-year-old Last has been with the property for only a year and a half, but has much experience tending bar throughout England, including stints at The Domino Club and The Maven, both in Leeds. “I started in a cloakroom as a favor for a friend,” she says. “I was always curious when the doors to the bar opened, so I waited until I could be a barback, and then managed to work my way up to bartender. After that, I never looked back.”
The spirit Last enjoys experimenting with the most is whiskey. “It’s so diverse and I’ve always had a soft spot for it,” she says. “In our new Classics Perfected menu, we’ve actually created some new takes on time-honored favorites like the Whiskey Sour and Old Fashioned.” (The Orange Trip was inspired by the aforementioned Whiskey Sour, and features Woodford Reserve Bourbon, orange juice, bitters and lemon.)
And of the industry in general, Last insists on not being a part of any trends. “Sometimes following trends makes us forget what we are here to do—and that is to host our guests, make drinks that everyone can enjoy and not get too caught up in something that will eventually fade. You have to believe in what you are doing, and not just because it’s what everyone else is doing,” she adds. “Otherwise I think the guest can feel it’s not real.”
Carte BlancheRecipe Courtesy of The Fairmont Hotels
1 ounce Grey Goose vodka
1 ounce Bombay Sapphire gin
1 ounce New World Chardonnay
1 strip lemon zest
1 skewered olive
Place the vodka, gin and Chardonnay in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Twist the lemon zest over the cocktail, and rub the rim of the glass with it to extract added flavor and discard. Garnish with the olive and serve immediately.
Photos by Hubert Kang.