From summer boat trips to picking blackberries, the Vesper Bar at London’s the Dorchester hotel has unveiled a cocktail menu inspired by the scent memories of its bar staff. Jenny Southan reports

The Vesper bar’s “Essentia” drinks menu “celebrates the powerful connection between scent and memories”, with each of its 11 new cocktails representing a personal experience from a different member of the Vesper Bar team.

The team of mixologists, led by bar manager Lucia Montanelli and head bartender Denise Elisei, have crafted a list of cocktails that “heightens the senses by reflecting on aromas, experiences and emotions”.

In so doing, customers gain a special human connection with the person behind the drink, which can’t be replicated in any other bar.Vesper bar, The DorchesterEach cocktail has been built on the foundations of “the Olfactory Pyramid”, a concept that visualises a fragrance through three levels; head (top notes), heart (middle notes) and base (end notes). Building on this principle, the team have crafted unique cocktails, evoking a memory through the smells.

Scents depicted through Essentia include mushroom foraging in the forest, salty sea air from summers on a boat, picking summer berries, nostalgic childhood birthday cakes, thunderstorms, and leather-bound library books. With imaginative and creative blending, the cocktails play on the senses, with scents and aromas evoking an experience and bringing the memory to life.

Highlights from the Essentia cocktail list include:

Sunkissed Summers: A boat trip to Capri in the heat of Italian summer – Seatrus gin, rhubarb “sea water”, aloe vera. (This was my favourite.)

Morning Sunshine: The beginning of spring, just as the days become longer, when the warm morning sunshine casts a vibrant prism of light reflecting off the table into a splendid rainbow all over the room – Enemigo Blanco tequila, Genever, lychee, kiwi, magnolia. (This one is served on a light-up coaster.)

Thunderstorm: Rainy days bringing the promise of new beginnings. Patchouli dances across damp grass and the wet, heavy earth – Altamura vodka, oregano mezcal, passionfruit, Greek punch, patchouli.Vesper bar, The DorchesterTurning Pages: Hidden away in the corner of an antique library, a treasured leather-bound book was found. Open the pages to release a musty, sweet scent, tinged with vintage wine and earthy vanilla – Jack Daniels single barrel whiskey, cognac, white port, paper syrup, smoke.

Forbidden Berries: Picking blackberries on the way home from school (note the purple thumbprint on the glass.) No 3 London dry gin, dry marsala, cordial Campari, blackberry hops, red molasses.

Vesper bar, The Dorchester

Birthday Wish, Timber, Morning Sunshine and Forbidden Berries are all available as non-alcoholic cocktails.

The new cocktail list launches sits alongside Vesper Bar’s signature Vesper Martini. Served in a delicately styled glass featuring the same scallop shell design motif as the bar itself, the Vesper is a shaken cocktail of gin, vodka, a touch of sherry and a spritz of lemon.

During The Dorchester’s recent renovation, Swedish architect Martin Brudnizki redesigned Vesper Bar taking inspiration from the spirit and elegance of the roaring thirties.

Ornate design runs throughout, including a 1930s Palladium leaf ceiling creating a warm effect for Martini hour. A series of Cecil Beaton pieces are hung within the bar, honoring the long-standing connection between Beaton, Brudnizki and the Dorchester.