UK bar industry stalwart Duane Shepherd is back at the sharp end, heading up the The Grosvenor hotel’s sleek new bar, Réunion.
Formerly the VIP lounge for first class rail passengers at Victoria Station, the revamped bar is just two months old, yet Duane has already honed one of London’s classiest venues.
“My vision for Réunion is to create a destination bar in a chic, luxurious environment where people can meet to enjoy a choice of great cocktails alongside a speciality wine selection and a selection of premium Champagnes served by a team of professionals who are passionate about the products at their disposal and happy to share their knowledge with customers,” he said.
Each month, they will be offering a bespoke cocktail list, with Duane and head bartender Paul Bradley kicking things off with a cracking limited-edition Victorian-themed cocktail list, available until the New Year.
The drinks include a Victorian Martini (Hendricks gin, blackberry liqueur, oranges, thyme and blueberry) and the 19th Century (Beefeater 24, Seville orange, dark chocolate bitters, homemade Oolong tea syrup infused with fresh baby figs and Madagascan vanilla), which was shortlisted for the Beefeater 24 South Regional final this year. Paul has even tried his hand (very successfully, I might add) at reproducing the distinct taste of Southern Comfort in his Cuffs and Buttons cocktail (Four Roses small batch bourbon whisky, peach brandy, cinnamon syrup and orange bitters).
Upcoming themes include, very appropriately, Failed Resolutions in January and Reunion’s Olympic Decathlon to coincide with the London Olympics in August (and what better place to start training, than at a station bar?).
They are also looking to launch an industry night in early 2012, “that gives something back to the hard working bartenders of London with the support from the brands we stock,” said Duane.
As if that’s not keeping them busy enough, each month they also feature a specific drink category where brand ambassadors are first invited in to train the team, before hosting masterclasses.
“We are really trying to put the brands directly into the customer’s hands whilst educating them at the same time, this way they may in turn start to order their drinks by brand rather than by category,” said Duane.
They have so far held four masterclasses including Japanese whiskies (Yamasaki 12 Yr Old, Hakushu 17 Year Old and Hibiki 17 Year Old), American whiskies (Four Roses yellow label, small batch and single barrel), Liqueurs (Mandarine Napoleon, Citronge, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, Pierre Ferrand Dry Orange Curacao and Merlet Triple Sec, Cassis, Poire William and Framboise) and a gourmet wine dinner hosted by Chateau Musar.