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Spirituality and teamwork behind Leo Bistro’s new cocktails

It is always a question, why do we visit a particular restaurant or why do we return to it, even multiple times? What is it that can really fascinate and captivate guests? Is it the interior and the design, the service or simply the flavors and aromas? Perhaps the closest we can come to the truth is to say that it is the combination of all these, the experience, that we are looking for in a meal or a drink. The seven senses, tarot cards, special spices, Peruvian perfume and a fruit that combines the flavors of tomato and melon are all part of the concept behind Leo Bistro’s new cocktail menu, where teamwork, demandingness, and a high degree of professionalism are present in every detail.

Cocktailing is a bit like a full-bodied red wine or even opera—you have to get into it, you have to grow up for it. When it’s not just about getting the alcohol in the most consumable form possible while sitting at the bar, but also about the experience of the drink: exciting stories, special ingredients, impressions that make us reflect, or even smile at a pleasant memory weeks later.

When creating Leo Bistro’s signature drink menu, the main focus for bar manager Gábor Dreghiciu, Sós Richárd bar manager assistant and their team was to play a little trick on the senses or just stimulate them. So, it happened that the Bloody Mary is only “red” in its taste, the Pina Colada is turned upside down and there are cocktails that we literally can’t keep our hands off.

The seven new cocktails relate to the seven senses, all of which appear on tarot cards reimagined by the bistro team and graphic designer Anna Csuthy. This is how the identity of the drink menu, more precisely, Leo’s own deck, was born. The cards come in a stylish black envelope, and then all we have to do is immerse ourselves in the artwork of the cards that perfectly match the bistro-style and the stories that go with the characters. “The graphic world of the Leo signature cards builds on the tarot symbol system, and the result is an expressive blend of the given sensory organ and the drawings that characterize the cocktails. The minimalist and modern line art illustration on the dark background with thin lines in rose gold evokes the mystical world of nightlife and the night skies,” Anna told about the concept.

Special ingredients such as Szechuan pepper, kefir, elderflower syrup, saffron or croissant syrup make the cocktails exciting. The latter is made in the spirit of sustainability from the Hotel Clark’s unserved breakfast pastries and adds a distinctive flavor to the drink. Since the cocktails really want to please all the senses, we don’t stop at unique flavors. The Nosy Empress cocktail arrives with perfume sprayed around the guests; for The Golden Note, a small music box completes the experience, and the most special of the drinks menu is undoubtedly the seventh sense cocktail, the Coracao Do Mundo (Heart of the Earth), which arrives under a glass dome and is bathed in a mysterious blue light, while the smoke from the Palo Santo tree enchants guests around the table. A special feature of the bark of the Peruvian sacred tree is that no tree has to be cut down to harvest it; instead, the tree drops down the bark and then it’s collected. It is believed to have a soul-cleansing and space-cleansing effect, and its spiritual significance makes it a perfect match for the Heart of the Earth cocktail.

The new signature drinks menu is the result of a real team effort, as everyone was involved in brainstorming the composition and naming of the cocktails, creating the characters of the deck, and taking part in shooting András Zombori’s photos, which were taken in the mini-studio set up in the restaurant with equipment purchased from the MTVA’s props department.

Among the cocktails, you will also find some, where you can choose the type of alcohol you want to drink. Experience has shown that vodka is usually the most popular and frequent choice, simply because guests distrust other spirits. However, we think it’s worth asking the bartenders for help or recommendations, as this is typically the time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new!

Photos by András Zombori

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