Erik Lorincz is head bartender at the historic American Bar at The Savoy Hotel in London’s West End. At last year’s Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, he took home a Spirited Award—the “Oscar of the bartending world”—for Best Bartender in the World. That’s the actual name of the category he won.
I dropped by the legendary bar last fall for a cocktail and to chat with the handsome Slovak. He’s a soft-spoken, reserved gentleman behind the bar—working in a profession that is not always known for the type. From the time I sit down at the bar his hands are constantly in motion mixing drinks, arranging bottles and tidying his mis en place, while never once dropping a beat in our conversation. As I arrived, he was mixing up batches of rum tiki cocktails, to age in barrels behind the bar.
How has the bartending community in London responded to you and the American Bar bringing home two Spirited Awards from New Orleans last summer?
It’s a really good culture in London and everyone is very supportive of successes. I spent eight years at The Connaught and they were really happy to see me win.
Your success is their success! What do you think are the keys to good bartending?
It’s really important for bartenders to know who they are talking to and to try not to look at what customers are drinking. If someone asks for something weird and I can make it, I’ll make it for the first round. But for the second round, I ask if they will let me choose.
You are Slovakian. Do you see this kind of elevated cocktail culture moving to Eastern Europe?
Yes! To Eastern and Central Europe. I’ve seen more bar shows happen this year since I’ve been in the industry. This year there were bar shows in Prague, Greece, Paris, Moscow, Holland, Poland, Germany…
Why do you think this is happening now?
Well, it’s the second Golden Age of cocktails. Bartenders are taking themselves seriously, treating it like a career and not a temporary job. Michelin star chefs are recognized all over the world, and now bartenders are getting some kind of recognition.
And how does the American Bar at The Savoy fit into this second Golden Age? After all, it was around for the first.
The Savoy and The American Bar are such classics, they are places for special occasions. People come here taking pictures, to celebrate. I see proposals all the time. One couple engraved their room number and “The Savoy” on the engagement ring.
What do you like to order when you’re on the other side of the bar?
A martini. It’s a very simple drink and very difficult to make correctly. When my martini is right, I’m a happy man.
What are the top five cocktails you serve at The American Bar?
The White Lady, the Hanky Panky, Martinis, Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.
Do you have any recent favorite unusual cocktail ingredients, liqueurs, or spirits that you’re enjoying playing with?
I really love the Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao. It’s a component in many classic cocktails, but it was unavailable until recently. David Wondrich has been working with Pierre Ferrand to bring back a lot of spirits and liqueurs that are not made anymore.
What’s a cocktail you like to use it in?
It’s a new cocktail I created. I call it the Pioneer Cocktail and I’ve dedicated it to two cocktail pioneers across the Atlantic from each other. Henry Craddock and Don Facundo Bacardi. It has Bacardi, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, Carlshamns Flaggpunsch, Creole bitters, Fresh lime and superfine sugar.
Getting Pissed In London Week is presented by our friends at Beefeater 24.