Cocktails in Canvas: 3 Bars Where Design Inspires Deliciousness

Imagine sipping a vibrant, citrusy concoction while surrounded by walls dripping with vibrant flora and fauna. Or picture yourself savoring a smoky mezcal cocktail bathed in the warm glow of vintage industrial lamps. The best bars offer more than just delectable drinks; they create immersive experiences where design fuels your enjoyment. 

Photo: In The Glass 2014

The world of mixology is no stranger to artistry. From the meticulous layering of ingredients to the carefully crafted garnishes, each expertly crafted cocktail is a miniature masterpiece. But what happens when the artistry extends beyond the glass and into the very fabric of the bar itself? This is where the magic unfolds in three iconic establishments around the globe: Campbell Apartment & Bar in New York, Artesian in London, and Salone Campari in Milan. These bars transcend the typical watering hole, transforming into immersive experiences where design and deliciousness intertwine to create unforgettable moments.

Paradiso, Barcelona: Surrealist playground

Stepping into Paradiso in Barcelona is like entering a Salvador Dalí dreamscape. Hidden behind an unassuming green door disguised as a refrigerator in a pastrami shop, the bar unfolds in a series of interconnected rooms, each meticulously themed. One chamber transports you to a lush jungle with hanging plants and animal prints, while another resembles a whimsical library lined with antique books and curious trinkets.

Push open the unassuming door of the Campbell Apartment & Bar, and you’re transported to a bygone era of glamor. Gleaming gold walls adorned with murals depicting lively cocktail parties of the 1920s instantly immerse you in the Art Deco spirit. Chandeliers adorned with cascading crystals cast a warm glow, while plush velvet armchairs and banquettes invite you to sink in and savor the ambiance. Even the bartenders, dressed in crisp white shirts, suspenders, and bow ties, contribute to the air of sophisticated nostalgia.

Photo: Spiegel

The cocktails themselves are just as imaginative. Mastermind Giacomo Giannotti crafts drinks that burst with flavor and visual intrigue. The “Penicillin,” served in a vintage ceramic birdcage, arrives shrouded in smoke, mimicking the medicinal fumes of its namesake. The “Old Fashioned” comes presented in a book-shaped tin, complete with a “bookmark” fashioned from edible paper. The bartenders, dressed in lab coats, add to the theatrical atmosphere, mixing concoctions with playful precision.

Paradiso’s genius lies in how the design doesn’t merely decorate; it becomes an integral part of the storytelling. Each element, from the playful furniture to the quirky glassware, complements the drinks and their narratives, transporting guests into a world of whimsy and delight.

Artesian: London’s modern wonderland

Across the Atlantic, Artesian in London takes a more contemporary approach to design-inspired cocktails. Housed within the iconic The Langham Hotel, the bar boasts a dramatic, ever-evolving interior. One year, it might be transformed into a futuristic metropolis with neon lights and metallic accents, the next, a surreal underwater world complete with kelp-like installations and bioluminescent lighting. This constantly changing environment becomes a blank canvas for the bar’s innovative mixology team.

But the true innovation lies in the bar’s ever-evolving cocktail program. Artesian is renowned for its “Liquid Journeys,” immersive experiences that take guests on a global adventure through taste and aroma. One journey might transport you to a bustling Tokyo market with a sake-based cocktail infused with yuzu and shiso, while another might whisk you away to a sun-drenched Mediterranean island with a gin and tonic infused with rosemary and thyme. The bartenders, attired in lab coats, act as your guides, explaining the inspiration behind each concoction and the meticulous techniques used to create them.

The design elements aren’t just flashy gimmicks. They act as conversation starters, prompting guests to delve deeper into the story behind each creation. The bartenders themselves embrace the ever-changing themes, their attire, and mannerisms adapting to match the current concept. This dedication to detail ensures that every visit to Artesian is an entirely new adventure, where design and mixology collide to create unforgettable memories.

Salone Campari: Milan’s ode to the red aperitif

In the heart of Milan’s fashion district, Salone Campari embodies Italian design at its finest. The bar’s minimalist interior features sleek marble counters, geometric chandeliers that cast mesmerizing patterns of light, and pops of the brand’s signature red that add a touch of vibrancy. The space exudes a sense of understated elegance, perfectly complementing the bar’s focus on showcasing the versatility of Campari.

Photo: The Taste SF

But the star of the show is undoubtedly the Campari itself. The bar boasts an extensive selection of Campari-based cocktails, from classic Negronis and Aperol spritzes to innovative creations that showcase the versatility of the bittersweet spirit. Their cocktail menu features classic Negronis and spritzes alongside innovative twists that highlight the bitter aperitif’s unique flavor profile. The “Milano Torino,” for instance, combines Campari with Punt e Mes and Carpano Bianco, served in a rock glass adorned with a single orange twist. The simplicity of the presentation allows the complex flavors of the drink to shine through, reflecting the bar’s design philosophy of “less is more.” The bartenders, passionate about the history and heritage of Campari, are happy to guide guests through the menu, offering recommendations and sharing stories about the brand.

These three bars, each unique in their design and approach, showcase how artistry can elevate the bar experience beyond just the drinks themselves. From the meticulously curated interiors to the innovative cocktail creations, each establishment offers an immersive journey that engages all senses and leaves a lasting impression. So, the next time you find yourself seeking a truly unforgettable cocktail experience, remember that the canvas can be just as important as the paint.

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