Quicktake: Jefrey’s Ink Menu features twelve cocktails inspired by tattoo artists.
Conceptual menus can challenging. When building a successful conceptual menu, it must deliver delicious drinks within the larger context of a meaningful and coherent experience. Ink, the current cocktail menu from Jefrey’s Benjamin Nolf, does both.
Benjamin worked with 12 different tattoo artists to develop 12 corresponding cocktails inspired by their work – drinks that “represent their world, their style, their taste but also their personality.” He spent over a year developing the menu, and the time spent shows through in an engaging and interesting collection of cocktails worth some contemplation.
The physical menu is the first entry point to the concept. It’s a nicely done mini booklet with drawings from each tattoo artist next to the corresponding cocktail. The aesthetic styles vary immensely, providing the first clue that we’re in for an interesting ride here. The different aesthetics don’t just reflect the ink-abilities of each artist, but the variety of styles and tastes to expect from the cocktails. It also includes useful elements that I like to see on a cocktail menu: a visual of the glass and an overall flavor profile, both of which provide more useful information to the client.
The twelve drinks on offer are named after the tattoo artists who inspired them and pull in plenty of ingredients that you might find in the kitchen. Think: ramen mix, avocado, curry, pesto or carrot. Things stretch further beyond the basics with ingredients like “gravlax” shrub. Each cocktail inhabits its own world and displays its personality both in terms of flavor profile and presentation. The Grenouille made with whiskey, tomato lemon and ramen mix is – as promised – “spicy, salty, vegetal” and is served with a side of egg yolk. The Nobel Needles is a smoky & peppery liquid interpretation of the impressive accompanying artwork. It’s also pitch black, further pushing the drinker to think about the ink.
Drinks are 14 Euros, which is slightly on the higher side of average these days as more cocktail options in bars and restaurants with lower price points come onto the scene. But given the thought, the complete concept, the intimate space and the talent behind the bar, it’s a price worth paying.
Much like tattoos, these drinks can be divisive. And that’s their strong suit. Rather than something made for mainstream that will please everyone a bit, these are unusual and original and will please those who appreciate them immensely. It’s the kind of menu you can spend some time working through until you find the one that’s meant for you. Much like you might do for a tattoo.
14 Rue Saint-Sauveur