Eric Lorincz was the head bartender of the American Bar at The Savoy for many years; now he’s made a further bid for mixology immortality with this re-imagining of the space that used to be Momo’s Kemia Bar.
Appropriately for a basement bar, everything about Kwant (pronounced ‘quaint) feels underground. The look of the place combines hotel bar tropes (creamy leather furniture, white-suited barkeeps, a live pianist and singer) with tiki touches of bamboo ceilings and greenery as well as a herringbone floor that turns out to be a carpet. The effect is entirely individual and a little disorientating, with the sort of louche, members’ club vibe you’ll want to introduce your friends to so you can show off your knowledge of secret London nightlife.
Kwant showcases the considerable talents of Lorincz and his team in a line-up of 24 in-house cocktails informed by the latest cutting-edge cocktail techniques and showcasing a collection of arcane ingredients: a touch of lacto-fermented purple carrot here, some roasted buckwheat cordial there.
We have to confess, however, to preferring our perfect renditions of classic Vespers, Aviations, Cosmopolitans and Margaritas to the likes of a Kryptonite-coloured Green Point (Copperhead gin with Fallen Pony quince spirit and spirulina) – though discussing the intricacies of the recipes makes Kwant a solid-gold bet for a date when you’re worried that conversation might dry up.
To eat, the bar snacks take in classy finger food and small plates from the Momo kitchen upstairs – think falafel, borek and briouats – though oysters and caviar fit the low-key glamour of the place the most.
If you want to push the boat out, there are vintage spirits for big spenders – why not have your White Lady made with Tanqueray from the 1950s? – though the entry-level drinks don’t exactly come cheap. Still, it’s a small price to pay to find a bar within spitting distance of Oxford Circus that offers a five-star experience and isn’t attached to a five-star hotel.