LESS IS MORE – THE ART OF SIMPLICTY IN BARS
Less is more; a philosophy increasingly gaining traction across the global bar industry, the days of ornate, over-elaborate drinks and ostentatious service are being phased out for quality drinks and service with an onus on getting back to basics.
Three Sheets in Dalston is a shining light in the London industry, ranking in the World’s 50 Best Bar List this year and early champions of simplicity across many aspects of their bar. We spoke with Bar Manager, Rosey Mitchell, about how stripping back can allow for better service.
At Three Sheets, the space itself was the original cause for simplicity. We only have a small space to work with, so it needed to be utilized in the most efficient way. We didn’t have the luxury of clutter, as we didn’t physically have the space for it.
Because of that, it has forced us to be cleverer about what we keep and stock. Anyone that has been to the bar will notice that there is only one shelf of bottles as a back bar. Due to just having that space we’ve simplified our spirit range to offer a good example in each category. In a smaller bar like this: the more you have (on the back bar), the more gathers dust. Having a smaller selection allows us, as a team, to hold a better understanding of what we’re pouring; but this approach also enables us to chop and change quickly, making our bar nimble enough to adopt exciting new products that we’re all really behind without much fuss.
I think the industry is most definitely moving towards more simplicity in venues, but in different aspects. Simplifying one element frees you up to focus on another. For instance, batching drinks allows you to interact more with customers and spend more time on service.
FLAVOR IS FUNDAMENTAL
When looking for inspiration, I’ll often look to the simplicity of design to get started. That can be across any platform. I think it’s wonderful when something works to the utmost, clinical level. This is something I love to follow when it comes to this industry: everything can always be stripped back, deconstructed to discover what is at its core and that’s where I think the best opportunity really is.
Once you start to pull it back you can really hone the smaller details to perfection, and that is when the lens of simplicity stretches you to get creative.
When we’re creating drinks at Three Sheets, we keep things clean and clutter-free. Drinks should be delicious, it really is as simple as that. Creating drinks at the bar always starts with that idea.
We start the process with the mentality of what we would like to drink. What drinks would we order and enjoy? With that in mind, we’ll then start with a single flavor - creating a single ingredient like a cordial and then exploring from there. It allows you to really focus on what you’re adding to the drink. Keeping recipes to 3 or 4 ingredients requires you to adopt a thoughtful manner – being precise and purposeful with additions to the drink.
You don’t need to add 12 ingredients to a drink for it to be interesting; the most effective drinks are generally of a simplistic nature, as it enables focus on the few key ingredients and forces bartenders to get showcase the full potential of each.
Garnishes are also kept to a minimum. If they don’t bring anything to the drink, they’re not considered. However, sometimes we use a small colored flower as a garnish to boost the visual appeal.
A SIMPLE MENU
The menu at the bar hasn’t ever completely changed. Drinks are removed maybe once or twice a month. We don’t have deadlines or put dates on menu changes, it’s quite an organic process. Things only go on when we’re all happy with the final product.
A few of the original drinks from the opening are still on the menu. Again, putting simplicity first, this allows us to be more selective about what’s being added and what must make way. Seasonality also gives us a general idea of what will be rotating when it comes to menu updating, so simplicity gives us the agility to adapt around that.
Our menu only has 9 drinks, and these are arranged in an easy-to-read manner. We only list 4 ingredients per drink, so it’s easy to read and easy to order, helping make easy decisions – why complicate things?
When it comes to service, I like the idea of creating a living room service in where I work: treat someone as if they were a guest in your own house. Straightforward, warm and genuine service that will be familiar to everyone. Nothing overbearing, nothing there for the sake or that doesn’t need to be.
Simplicity inherently breeds more approachable, warmer staff as it liberates them to focus on the customer. Approachable service puts people at ease and most definitely enjoy their experience more, hopefully wanting to return.
You can change someone’s experience of something so naturally that they probably wouldn’t even notice, but it will resonate. It’s finding that beauty in something so simple.
RECIPES YOU SIMPLY MUST TRY
- 1 1/2 oz Tanqueray Gin
- 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
- 1/4 oz Nettle cordial
- Nick & Nora glass
- No ice
- Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice and stir to dilute
- Double strain into a Nick and Nora glass
- Garnish with a discarded lemon zest and gypsophila (flower).
(Alcohol content: 0.8 fl oz)
ROSEY’S TOP TIPS FOR KEEPING THINGS SIMPLE
- Keep ingredients to a minimum when crafting drinks – focus on the balance
- When creating drinks, start with a base flavour and develop from there
- A simple garnish, such as a flower, can add colour and enhance presentation
- Menus don’t need to read like a book, you don’t need too many cocktails
- Straightforward, warm and approachable service is key
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